Before going out, Yuvraj told me 'tu ghabra mat. Main khelke aaunga': Ex-India star's never-heard-before story from 2000
The former India star recalled a never-heard-before anecdote about Yuvraj Singh from the 2000, when the southpaw represented India at the U19 World Cup.
Former Team India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh is widely considered as one of the biggest match-winners in the side. A player of the tournament in India's 2011 World Cup-winning campaign, Yuvraj was an integral part of the Indian team for many years and also played a pivotal role in the side's magnificent victory in the 2007 T20 World Cup. Of course, the southpaw is known for smashing England bowler Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over during a group game of the 2007 edition but long before he became a household name, he was still tormenting oppositions at the international level.
Yuvraj was the part of the team that lifted the U19 World Cup in 2000 under the captaincy of Mohammad Kaif. “Yuvraj Singh has been a champion. He has won matches on his own. When the going got tough, Yuvraj used to come and win us games. I remember this one game in the U19 World Cup in 2000 against Australia in the semi-final. We didn't score many runs and Australia had the likes of Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and others in their team back then,” Reetinder Sodhi tells Hindustan Times during an exclusive chat on the sidelines of the Legends Cricket League.
In the semi-final of the tournament, India took on a tough Australian side that had the likes of Shaun Marsh, Shane Watson, and Mitchell Johnson in their playing XI, among others. India had made a strong start to the game with opener Ravneet Ricky scoring a century (108); however, as the innings continued, India's run-rate became a growing concern.
The openers, Ravneet and Manish Sharma (65) scored at a strike rate of roughly 70, meaning the pressure was on the middle-order batters to up the ante. In came Yuvraj Singh with India's score at 202/2 in 42.5 overs. In the overs to follow, Yuvraj unleashed carnage on the Aussie bowlers and Reetinder Sodhi, India's former batting all-rounder who was next in the batting order after Yuvraj in the game, recalled the events that transpired into the southpaw's explosive innings.
“Yuvraj had to go next. And then, it was my turn. I told him, 'Yuvi, run kam bane hain yaar. Thoda tez khelna padega. (Yuvi, there aren't many runs on the board. We have to accelerate).' And then, he goes out there in the 43rd over, and scores some 60 off 25 balls (58 off 25 deliveries),” Reetinder recalled.
"Yuvraj had actually told me before going to the field, "Tu ghabra mat. Main andar jaa raha hu na, main khelke aaunga (you don't worry. I'm going inside, I'll play my way)." He is a man of self-belief, and we saw that self-belief for many years when he played for Team India," Reetinder further said as he revealed his chat with Yuvraj.
India eventually beat Sri Lanka in the final of the tournament and Yuvraj was possibly the greatest find for the side from that edition of the U19 World Cup. The all-rounder went on to make 304 appearances in ODIs, 58 in T20Is and 40 in Tests for India before eventually retiring from international cricket in 2019.