Yuvraj Singh, the swashbuckling left-hander, was the mainstay of India’s batting line up even in the presence of legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and later M S Dhoni, but the southpaw did not get to captain the Indian cricket team. Yuvraj, however, never openly regretted being ignored for the leading role until recently.
Speaking with Gaurav Kapur for the ’22 Yarns’ podcast on Thursday (June 10), Yuvraj said he expected the captainship role for the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007, but the job was given to Dhoni.
“So, basically, India had lost the 50-over World Cup, right? I mean there was quite a turmoil in Indian cricket and then there was a two-month tour of England and there was also a month tour in between with South Africa and Ireland. And then there was a month of T20 World Cup so there were like four months away from home. So probably the seniors thought that they need a break and obviously, nobody took the T20 World Cup seriously. I was expecting to captain India in the T20 World Cup and then it was announced MS Dhoni will be the captain,” Yuvraj Singh said.
Exactly two years after he quit international cricket (June 10, 2019), Yuvraj sounded sad at not being considered for the top job. After all, Yuvraj was a match-winner. He played a pivotal role in India winning the 2007 T20 World Cup (remember the 6 sixes he hit against England’s Stuart Board) and later in the 2011 World Cup where he was adjudged the ‘player of the tournament’. However, the team management never tested his ability to lead the team.
On his relationship with Dhoni, Yuvraj said he got along well with him. “Yes, obviously, whoever becomes captain you got to support that guy whether it was Rahul, whether it was [Sourav] Ganguly, whoever in the future, end of the day you want to be a team man and that’s how I was” Yuvraj said during the podcast.
On India’s performance in the 2007 T20 World Cup, Yuvraj said, “Starting for the 2007 World Cup, we were a young team. We didn’t have an international coach or really big names. Lalchand Rajput was our coach and I think Venkatesh Prasad was our bowling coach and we were just a young team under a young captain which just landed in South Africa. I don’t think we had too much of a strategy, no one had a clue about T20 strategies because it was the first tournament. So we thought ‘Let’s just go and play the way you know.”
On Thursday (June 10), the day he quit international cricket two years back, Yuvraj shared an emotional video, reliving his illustrious career. He tweeted: “After 25 years in cricket I have decided to move on. Cricket has given me everything I have. This game taught me how to fight, how to fall, to dust off, to get up again and move forward. It has been a lovely journey. See you on the other side.”
Yuvraj Singh made his international debut in an ODI match against Kenya in October 2000. He then went on to play 304 ODIs, 40 Tests and 58 T20Is for the country. In 2011, Yuvraj was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his left lung and underwent chemotherapy treatment in Boston and Indianapolis. He last played for India in June 2017 against West Indies and declared retirement on June 10, 2019.