Yuvraj Singh turned back the clock on Thursday, scoring his highest-ever score (150) in Indian cricket team colours against England. To think that it is his comeback series in ODIs, after almost four years, only increases the importance of the feat.
But for Yuvraj returning to his top game was never easy. The 2011 World Cup ‘Player of the tournament’ fought against cancer and poor form to emerge as a champion on Thursday. And current India captain Virat Kohli is a major reason behind it, according to Yuvraj.
“Self-confidence is always there when you have the backing of the team and captain. I think Virat has showed a lot of trust in me and it was very important for me that people in the dressing room trust me,” Yuvraj said, after helping India seal the three-match series 2-0 in Cuttack.
“It feels great. It’s been a while since I got a hundred. After recovering from cancer, the first two-three years were very hard. I had to work hard on my fitness and I was in and out of the team. I was not able to get a permanent spot,” he said.
Virender Sehwag tweeted: “This man has defeated Cancer. Today,he only defeated the English bowlers. Everyone can learn not to give up. Proud of @YUVSTRONG12 #INDvENG.”
Yuvraj recalled the uncertain times. “There was a time when I was wondering whether to continue or not to continue. I think a lot of people have helped me throughout this journey. So, never giving up is my theory. So I never gave up, kept working hard. I knew times will change.”
“Definitely, 150 is a huge score in one-day cricket. It’s my highest and taken a long time to get there but I am very happy it happened today. Hopefully, in the coming time I can contribute more consistently.”
Before the England series, Yuvraj’s last ODI series was against South Africa in 2013, where he did not perform well. But after scoring his 14th century under pressure, Yuvraj is relieved.
Yuvraj performed consistently in the Ranji Trophy this season, scoring 672 runs in five matches for Punjab, including two centuries. He also hit his career-best 260 against Baroda in October last year.
“I’ve been batting well in the domestic season. And I’ve been hitting the ball really well. I wanted to make it big on my day,” he added.
Yuvraj and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (134) were involved in a 256-run fourth-wicket stand that helped India recover from 25/3 to score 381/6 against England, who could manage 366/8 in reply. Yuvraj said that the comfort level he shares with Dhoni was the key to their success.
Dhoni was at the non-striker’s end when Yuvraj had hit six sixes in a Stuart Broad over in the 2007 World T20. Incidentally, Yuvraj was at the non-striker’s end when Dhoni had hit the winning six against Sri Lanka to help India win the 2011 World Cup at the Wankhede.
“We always have been batting together since he started his career. Obviously I started much earlier. Mahi and me have played a lot of games for India, won a lot of games for India as well. The camaraderie is always there. I think we have a lot of understanding when we bat together. Running between the wickets is always good. I hope it works on the future as well,” he said.
As of now, Yuvraj is gearing up for the third India-England ODI in Kolkata on Sunday.