| Yuvraj: Dream of facing Wasim Akram realised
Pretoria: Yuvraj Singh didn’t miss out on Chandigarh’s frenzied celebrations to mark India’s 1996 World Cup quarter final win (in Bangalore) over Pakistan. Seven years on, having himself played a big role in yet another victory, last Saturday, he is stumped at the adulation and the feedback from home.
“I believe people in India have gone mad... As for myself, the calls haven’t stopped. Funnily, I don’t even know most of the callers,” Yuvraj remarked Monday afternoon, while interacting with a select group of Mediamen.
Yuvraj, of course, is “grateful” to Sachin Tendulkar for providing him the platform to settle down before keeping the scorers busy in Centurion. India, it may be recalled, won by six wickets.
Unbeaten on an excellent 50, Yuvraj emphasised that Sachin’s blistering 98 made it easy when he took guard at 177 for four. “I didn’t have to hurry as my idol had given such an extraordinary start... I could get the eye in before going for my shots.”
According to Yuvraj, Sachin’s innings also allowed him to back himself even more. “I stuck to the basics and backed myself... I did, after all, learn from Sachin whose body-language, in the dressing room itself, had supreme confidence written all over...”
But, surely, there must have been pressure on two counts — the World Cup plus a game versus Pakistan'
“Well, we can’t do anything about pressure... It’s best to back yourself and, thankfully, Rahul Dravid was at the other end... We’ve had some very fine partnerships and he has always been hugely supportive. He’s a pro,” Yuvraj replied.
Yuvraj, by the way, realised “one dream” when he faced his favourite bowler — Wasim Akram. “I wasn’t overawed... Played straight and backed myself...”
His top innings, though, remains the 84 against Australia (ICC KnockOut, Nairobi, 2000). While that was his second ODI, it was his first essay with the bat.
Asked whether the on-field ‘exchanges’ were decidedly more as it was an India-Pakistan match, Yuvraj answered in the affirmative. “Both teams were so charged-up that things had to be said... Obviously, I wouldn’t like to go into specifics...”
Later, speaking to The Telegraph, Yuvraj accepted that Team India had a “good chance” of creating history — becoming the first Asian side to claim the World Cup twice. “Let’s keep our fingers crossed,” he said, smiling.
We should, really.