New Delhi: Mahendra Singh Dhoni is man of few words and even fewer emotions. But when it comes to Yuvraj Singh, the India captain opens up.
“I always regarded Yuvi as one all-rounder we were looking for,” Dhoni said. “After Irfan Pathan, we were struggling to find a proper all-rounder. Yuvi was the perfect individual for that role. He can change the game with his batting, fielding and even bowling. He is always a big match player, who loves to perform on the big stage.”
Speaking during the launch of Yuvraj Singh’s memoirs, The Test of My Life, published by Random House India, Dhoni recollected how he asked the southpaw to pull it off during the crucial 2011 World Cup quarter final against Australia.
“Normally, I don’t talk much while batting. But this time, when I was going out, I told him Yuvi, please, finish it off. I knew he would do it. He did exactly what I expected from him,” Dhoni said.
So overawed was Dhoni by Yuvraj’s batting, he addressed the Punjab batsman as “aap” for a long time. “I could never forget the Cooch Behar Trophy match when Bihar scored 356 and Yuvi alone made 357. Such was his quality.”
So, when Yuvraj was detected with cancer, Dhoni was simply shocked. “I came to know about it long before lot of people knew itů I kept on telling myself it can’t be true.
“But I knew, there are some fights in life you need to take head onů Yuvi did exactly that. It was not a T20 match. It was a prolonged battle like a Test match. I was confident Yuvi would win it,” he said.
Like Dhoni, all his teammates were devastated when Yuvraj was struck with cancer. Recalling those dreadful days, Sachin Tendulkar said he was afraid to meet Yuvraj in London.
“To me, Yuvi is like a younger brotherů While going to meet him I told my wife (Anjali) that I should not break down in front of him.
“I met him and gave him a tight hug. We enjoyed a meal and from the way he ate, I was convinced that he was back on track,” Tendulkar told the gathering. “When Yuvi and my wife were discussing some medical terms, I realised what he was going through.”