Visakhapatnam: There must surely have been pressure within, but Yuvraj Singh looked rather relaxed early on Saturday, which was supposed to be the “second-biggest day” of his career.
The first, in Yuvraj’s book, is April 2, 2011, when India regained the World Cup after 28 years and he was adjudged the Player of the Tournament.
But as it was to be the start of a fresh innings, here, The Telegraph asked Yuvraj if he remembered his thoughts on the morning of his debut, against Kenya, in the October 2000 ICC KnockOut.
Laughing, Yuvraj recalled: “Actually, I had to take sleeping pills as Sourav (Ganguly, the captain) had, the previous evening, asked ‘open karega kya’?... I’d replied I would, but that was more out of bravado...
“I just couldn’t sleep, out of nervousness and took sleeping pills... At breakfast, though, Sourav clarified he’d only been joking... ‘Mazaak kar raha tha main’... That relaxed me.”
Four years later, Yuvraj ‘repaid’ Sourav.
“I’d promised Sourav that I’d also play a prank... Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) and I did exactly that, on April Fool’s Day, when we were in Pakistan on the Revival tour...
“We arranged a printout of an imaginary interview of Sourav, where he’d been critical of his players... When that was shown to him, he pleaded he hadn’t given any such interview...
“Sourav went from player to player, claiming innocence... Later, of course, he was furious when Rahul Dravid told him that Bhajji and I had pulled a fast one. He then chased us in the dressing room!”
For his part, Sourav remembered the prank played on him, but didn’t recall having (jokingly) asked Yuvraj to open on his debut.
Regulars Sourav and Sachin Tendulkar opened, with India chasing down 209 for the loss of two wickets in under 43 overs. Yuvraj wasn’t required to bat, but he’d bowled four overs.
Yuvraj’s first India captain, however, is delighted that he’s back on the big stage.
Speaking exclusively, Sourav said: “Yuvi’s gone through a lot... I’m very happy for him now... Initially, I was concerned whether he’d recovered physically, but obviously he has.”
Asked if he had a message for Yuvraj, Sourav was quick to reply: “Indeed, yes... Keep hitting them in the stands!”
Rain prevented Yuvraj from having a go at the Dr YSR Stadium, so one has to wait till the Chepauk (on Tuesday), at least.