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Yuvraj grateful for Kirsten's family feeling

cricket Updated: Mar 25, 2011 12:10 IST
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Yuvraj Singh hailed Gary Kirsten's influence after helping take the South African coach one step nearer to a fairytale finish at the World Cup.

"Since Gary started, the team unity, the way we practice and believe in each other, it's like a family," explained Yuvraj, after his unbeaten 57 saw India to a five-wicket win over Australia that set-up a semi-final clash against old rivals Pakistan.

Kirsten has already confirmed he will return to South Africa to spend more time with his family when his contract expires after the World Cup.

He now has a maximum of two games left before the curtain comes down on his four years in charge.

The deliberately low-key Kirsten, a gritty opening batsman who played 101 Tests and 185 one-day internationals for South Africa, was appointed not long after India's humiliating first round exit at the 2007 World Cup under high-profile Australian coach Greg Chappell.

But under the 43-year-old Kirsten, India have risen to number one in the Test rankings and number two in one-dayers.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, speaking on the eve of the match against Australia, said of Kirsten: "The kind of character he is, the way he has managed the Indian dressing room, not to forget the 15 members who are part of the squad all of them are big superstars and all of them have a big fan following in India.

"The way he has managed each and every individual and I think he has done a fantastic job. It reflects as to how we have done well on the field. I think he is a fantastic gentleman to be associated with."

India batting great Sachin Tendulkar had previously praised Kirsten, by saying: "Gary has been instrumental in making our batters play plenty of deliveries in the practice session.

"During net practice, he himself bowls thousands and thousands of balls.

"He has been an important member of the Indian squad along with the other support staff. I have enjoyed my game under him. He is really putting in a lot of effort."