It was a far cry from the confident Yuvraj Singh, the man with a winning swagger and smile, one has been used to over the years. As he stepped out of the Indira Gandhi International Airport on a warm Monday morning, the waiting crowd, including many journalists, saw a different hero, one who had won a battle of life far more significant than earlier ones on the cricket field.
Having arrived on a flight from London, India’s World Cup hero, used to hordes of fans mobbing him as a player, looked just a touch unsure as he stepped out of the airport, finally back home after successful treatment in Indianapolis for a rare germ-cell cancer that had left the cricket-mad nation, and a number of friends and fellow players of Yuvraj, concerned and praying.Looking a bit tired and weak, Yuvraj, wearing a black jacket on top of a red t-shirt, khaki trousers and a reversed red sports cap, stood behind his mother Shabnam Singh as photographs clicked away and fans cheered him.
Fit and fine
The player, and those who had come to receive him, said little before Yuvraj left in a white Audi with two more vehicles in tow, as they headed for his house in Gurgaon. Pleased to be back home after the ordeal, Yuvraj told the waiting media that he felt fine.
It was an emotional moment as Yuvraj arrived at his Gurgaon residence. Besides neighbours, school students were also assembled to receive him.
As Yuvraj reached home around midday, his friends and neighbours received him with flowers and sweets. His neighbour, Gautam Kakkar, said: “We missed him, he is full of life and liked by all. We wish him a speedy recovery.”
“I am recovering well, but can’t speak much today. I will talk in detail after two days,” said Yuvraj, who is scheduled to address a media conference on Wednesday.
His mother, who was by his side during his treatment in the US, said: “I will cook him some paranthas and he will be taking rest for another 10-15 days before scheduling anything. He is very positive. I am very happy that he is back, it was an innings he fought alone but with the blessings of the country. I want to spend time with him and want him to relax and take proper rest. He would soon be seen on the field playing and hitting more sixes.”
His father, Yograj Singh, hailed his son’s grit in battling the disease and wanted Yuvraj to take his time regaining strength before even thinking of picking up the bat.
Pune Warriors were affected by the illness to their skipper Yuvraj, and Sourav Ganguly, roped in to mentor and lead the team in his absence, has spoken about the challenge of moulding the team in his absence.
Inputs from Leena Dhankhar in Gurgaon