Yuvraj Singh plays with Pune Warrior players during his team visit on the ground before the match between Pune Warriors and Deccan Chargers at Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune. HT photo by Santosh Harhare.
As the Pune Warriors warmed up in their grey and yellow training gear, ahead of the game against the Deccan Chargers, one man, wearing the Warriors' match jersey and training trouser, gently knocked the ball on the adjacent strip.
The focus was on the bald man and rightly so. It was the first time in three months, since his recovery from germ cell cancer, did Yuvraj Singh spend some time on a cricket field.
No wonder, rather than the match, almost every spectator at the near-full Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium was keen on following India's World Cup hero through the evening.
As soon as Yuvraj entered the ground, he was greeted by the Warriors' owners. He then received a 'welcome back' kind of tight hug from teammate Robin Uthappa.
After sharing a joke or two with Rahul Sharma and Mithun Manhas, it was time to give a pep talk to the Warriors' squad during their huddle at the start of the warm-ups. After pushing a few balls, Yuvraj got another hug from Sunil Gavaskar, which was followed by a brief chat. What ensued were a series of interviews with the official IPL broadcaster.
If it was surprising to see Yuvraj motivate the players instead of skipper Sourav Ganguly, one just needed to recall that at the start of IPL V, Ganguly had said that he wouldn't have been leading the side but for Yuvraj's ill-health.
After all, what he has been through, including three cycles of chemotherapy, the Warriors couldn't have asked for a better person than their last year's skipper to motivate them ahead of the match against DC.