Tuned into 12

Tears of joy...Yuvraj Singh gets emotional after the epic win.-Pics: PTI

Yuvraj Singh had struggled for the most part of the previous 12 months, trying his best to stay focused, stay tuned to the responsibilities entrusted upon him. With 15 wickets and an aggregate of 362 runs, with one century and four fifties in the 2011 World Cup, he has at last delivered on his promises. Over to Vijay Lokapally.

Angry? “Not me. I don't lose temper for nothing.” Arrogant? “If you think so. But if you ask me certainly not!” Misunderstood? “Mostly.” the smile on his face said it all as Yuvraj Singh reflected on the difficult times he had experienced in the run up to the World Cup. We were in conversation a week before the team was to assemble for the preparatory camp in Bangalore and Yuvraj looked determined to set the record right.

“How can anyone who does not know me personally judge me? How?” His question was justified. For long, Yuvraj has suffered from the wrong perception in the media, and subsequently, his followers too. “I don't care what the media thinks. But it pains me when the fans misunderstand me. I am a sportsman. Do you think I would harm my interests by not training and not working hard to improve on my cricket? I have only wanted to play cricket and that is what I am best at,” he stressed.

The ‘man of the series' award at the 2011 World Cup should be the most coveted in his showcase. He had dreamt of it from the time India lost the 2003 final to Australia at Johannesburg. “We played bad cricket that day,” he said. But he, and the team, has made it up by playing outstanding cricket at the Wankhede Stadium. Yuvraj the batsman had little to do. But Yuvraj the bowler made a substantial contribution by claiming the wicket of Kumar Sangakkara.

Yuvraj had struggled for the most part of the previous 12 months, trying his best to stay focused, stay tuned to the responsibilities entrusted upon him. The number 12 has amazing significance in his life and cricket. He was born at 12 noon, on the 12th day of the 12th month at Sector 12 in Chandigarh. He chose the number for his jersey and gave his best in his 12th year of international cricket.

Winning the ‘man of the series' award was not part of the script that he had visualised. Winning the Cup for Sachin Tendulkar certainly was. Yuvraj confessed it was Sachin who guided him during the difficult period when playing even in the Indian Premier League appeared such a “burden.” Those dark days only made him stronger. He battled bad form and injuries but came out on top.

Tendulkar has been a huge influence on Yuvraj's career. “The more I see him the more I admire his commitment and loyalty. He is an institution and it was my privilege to know that he had faith in me. I did not want to let him down,” Yuvraj said. He also did not want to let down coach Gary Kirsten and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The two were convinced that Yuvraj had to bring out the bowler in him. It would lead to a fantastic balance in the side and give the captain more options when finalising his eleven.

Yuvraj Singh celebrates with Sachin Tendulkar after India's World cup victory-

So, Yuvraj was back to doing what he did as a young cricketer. His father, Yograj, was a bowler. The son had to imbibe the skills but he chose to bowl spin and not fast like his father. There was no let up in hard work and his motivation was to shine on the big stage. “World Cup is the stage where I want to perform,” he had promised. And he has kept it.

His contribution was critical to India's campaign. He gave the team the breakthroughs at the right time and with bat too, he stood tall many a times. He had matured at last, a senior pro who could be trusted to deliver against all odds. Fifteen wickets and an aggregate of 362 runs, with one century and four fifties, made him an all-rounder that he had always promised to be.

Yuvraj was known as an under-achiever and he had pledged to erase that impression. Kirsten and Tendulkar supported his resolve to play to his potential and this World Cup has established the left-hander as the prime member of the Indian team. He was not found wanting when the occasion arrived. The emotional outburst on the pitch only reflected his state of mind. It was obviously a huge relief to perform consistently and to help the team win the Cup. Yuvraj had waited for this day!

The ‘man of the series' trophy would adorn Yuvraj's showcase along with the four ‘man of the match' awards that he picked up in this tournament. But his greatest prize from the tournament would be the smile that he brought to Tendulkar's face and a billion others on the night of April 2, 2011.