It wasn’t just the sound of ball hitting the sweet spot on his bat that thrilled Yuvraj Singh. It was the movement of his feet and the body getting behind each ball thrown at him at the nets by his Punjab teammate and former India pacer VRV Singh that brought the smile back on Yuvraj’s face.
In Chandigarh for a couple of days,Yuvraj was eager to make it count. After a phone call to the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium,the local star drove down,hitting the gym before opting for a longish net session.
“I am feeling good,” Yuvraj told The Indian Express in a chat just after batting,I will get into the groove soon. I am at the most critical phase of my career and won’t mind starting from the scratch.
Most present had seen Yuvraj pick up his earliest cricket lessons at the same ground and some compared his present fitness to that from seven or eight years ago. Yuvraj,fresh from a six-week fitness sojourn in France under noted trainer Tim Exeter,looked slimmer,fitter and stronger,and seemed to have won this round against his fitness.
In the last 10 days of this year’s IPL,I was not feeling fit. My back was hurting a lot. It was then that I decided to train under a professional coach outside India. Zaheer also wanted to do the same. After going through the options,we decided to train under Exeter in France. I wanted to train abroad in order to stay away from distractions and just focus on my fitness. Those six weeks were amazing and worked wonders for me. I am feeling fit and raring to go. Zaheer will extend his fitness regimen in South Africa in the coming weeks, he said.
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Yuvraj played the main role in helping India win the 2011 World Cup,but his career got a jolt when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He did make a comeback in the Indian team in 2012 during World T20 series in Sri Lanka. However,his career did not take off from there due to fitness issues.
When asked if it would have been appropriate to wait for some more time before making a comeback,the 31-year-old said,”It is very easy to talk like that. It is just me and my family who know what my body has gone through during the illness. The doctor told me that 14 months was a good time to start playing again. Moreover,I trained hard at that time and was feeling fit. I just needed more matches.
But after the last IPL,I had doubts about my fitness and I realised I had to be fitter if I needed to continue playing for India. That is the reason I pursued the French camp. I will strive hard to do well in the coming domestic tournaments in order to stake my claim in the national team. I am aware that there is lot of competition and it wont be easy,but I am open to challenges. It is good that there is stiff competition. I will fight hard.”
Both Yuvraj and Zaheer started their careers at the same time. They share a great rapport. Both are aiming to make comebacks in the Indian teams. When asked how Zaheer’s presence was helpful and motivating for him,Yuvraj said,”Zak is a good friend. We have played cricket for India together for years. It is really helpful when a close friend of yours is working out with you to achieve something. Moreover,it helped us stay focused,we would talk about fitness and stop each other from binging on unhealthy stuff. We used to encourage each other in order to attain certain goal.”
Yuvraj also had another item on his agenda tonight: he will be watching ‘Bhag Milkha Bhag’ with his father and former India’ cricketer Yograj Singh, who has acted as Milkha’s coach in the movie.
I am quite excited about the movie. I will watch it with Dad. I am proud of him. Lot of people have been praising his acting skills.
Yuvraj will be seen in action during the Punjab inter-district cricket tournament for Katoch Shield that is being played in Punjab.