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Team India’s Alpha Male

If the rest of India went to bed elated on Thursday,Chandigarh couldn’t sleep at all,sandwiched between celebrating the win over Australia in Ahmedabad

Written by Shalini Gupta |
March 26, 2011 2:58:27 am

Without Yuvraj Singh,India would not be where it is in this World Cup. Here’s how yoga,Buddhism and his victory gene have made Yuvi Indian cricket’s situation man

If the rest of India went to bed elated on Thursday,Chandigarh couldn’t sleep at all,sandwiched between celebrating the win over Australia in Ahmedabad and the realisation that no tickets were available for the World Cup semi-final clash between India and Pakistan at Mohali on March 30. One name was common in the commotion though: Yuvraj Singh.

In Chandigarh,it doesn’t matter how Yuvraj won back his reputation,and fans,in a matter of days. It doesn’t matter what he is thinking about the big match that is coming up. What matters is that the Punjabi puttar has virtually grown up at Mohali’s PCA Stadium and there isn’t a single soul in the city who is not desperately searching for a ticket to cheer for their own “Yuvi paaji ”.

Not too long ago,Yuvraj was seen requesting the PCA officials for “50-60 tickets” for an ODI at Mohali. “Kya karoon ,” Yuvaj had said at the time,“this is my home and you won’t know how many of my friends want to come and see me play live.” Well,right now,the whole of India wants to watch him play live. “Kapil paaji from Chandigarh won the 1983 World Cup for India,Yuvi will win it this time for the country,” shouts a fan outside the stadium on Friday.

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It isn’t only the fans. The Pakistan team has already landed in the city,and one can almost smell them discussing Yuvraj’s threat to their campaign. “Pakistan have reason to fear him,” says Kapil Dev,“you can see it in Yuvraj’s eyes how badly he wants to win big games. I hope he stays focussed and can channelise his energy as India needs the match winner in him. My advice to him would be to switch himself off from the fans and supporters as,at times,playing at home can cause distractions or the player may get carried away.”

It would also help that Yuvraj has a father who has always pushed him hard. “We give our sons and daughters sheltered lives by protecting them. It makes them weak. When I was training Yuvi,I pushed him to the extreme. I remember when he was 10 years old,a cricket ball hit his head — my mother never spoke to me after that; she said I was torturing him. I wish she was alive now to see the fruits of that hard work,” says Yograj Singh,a former India pacer and an actor who will be seen in Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra’s Teen Thay Bhai.

As Yuvraj repeatedly turns into India’s match winner,Yograj recalls the depths he had hit last year when he lost his Test place and critics loudly questioned his ODI form. Yuvraj found solace in yoga and Buddhism,says his father. “Yuvi was under tremendous pressure last year. He was also low on confidence when he was suffering from all sorts of injuries. People mocked at his form,fitness,capabilities and his body language on the field. He had to find inner strength to fight the odds. He is my son; he worked hard. He even practiced Buddhism to regain his self-belief and lost motivation,” says Yograj.

“ I have brought Yuvi up like that,and he is a born fighter. He will bring more glory to India and to his parents when he wins the World Cup for India,” says Yograj,adding that he is his son’s greatest fan. Friends also recall the dark patch of last year. Yuvraj has never worked so hard on his fitness,they add.

His mother Shabnam has accompanied Yuvraj to a few matches this World Cup and she is his biggest strength as well. Just before the Cup started,Yuvraj had said,“The last one year has been very testing; I am glad it’s over. Like any other cricketer,winning the World Cup is my ultimate dream. And I don’t want to do it because I want to silence my critics or something like that. That’s my job and my country expects the same from me. I really want to do well for my people and team.”

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