Just hours before the 2011 World Cup began, Sachin Tendulkar’s eyes detected something amiss in Yuvraj Singh, and it took a quiet dinner in Dhaka for the batting maestro to convince the left- hander that India needed him to fire if they were to win the trophy.
Although Tendulkar didn’t say if Yuvraj disclosed the seriousness of his illness at the time, before India’s first World Cup game against Bangladesh, he pepped him up to give off his best during the tournament that India eventually won in style.
Yuvraj was adjudged man of the tournament, after which his successful fight with cancer began.
“I noticed something was wrong with Yuvraj and it seemed that he was a bit low. I felt it was more to do with his mind and so I told him that we should sit together and have dinner,” Tendulkar disclosed while speaking at the launch of Yuvraj’s memoir, The Test of My Life , here on Tuesday.
“I told him that we needed his match- winning skills for India to win the Cup and after that night, he was more determined than ever to bring home the Cup,” he said.
Tendulkar, however, said that he feared that he would break down in front of Yuvraj when they came face to face in London last year.
“When I went to meet him in London, I was telling my wife that I don’t want to break down when I see him. I met him and gave him a tight hug. We enjoyed a meal and from the way he ate, I was convinced that he is back on track,” he recalled.
Tendulkar said that he could feel the pain Yuvraj had gone through and experienced mixed emotions. “After the meeting in London, I could understand what he went through, especially after I saw my wife discussing medical terms with Yuvraj. He is like my younger brother and I would ask God why it (the illness) had to happen to Yuvraj,” he said.
Yuvraj, in turn, dwelled on his relationship with Tendulkar and recalled his first meeting with him.
“During a first-class match, I was one of the reserve players and was asked to give a biscuit packet to Sachin. I kept staring at him for a long time and a stunned Sachin kept asking for the biscuits,” he recalled.
Later, Tendulkar quipped that he was yet to receive the biscuit packet.
THE trials and tribulations that Yuvraj underwent while undergoing treatment for cancer has completely changed his outlook towards life. The 31- year- old allrounder along with his India teammates recalled how he won the battle against the disease.
“It’s very hard to describe the feeling once you get to know that you have been diagnosed with the disease. My core system — my friends, family, especially mother — and teammates supported me, and playing international cricket after that was a great challenge,” Yuvraj said.
Virat Kohli, Harbhajan Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni regaled with their anecdotes.
“During his illness, I never spoke on that subject and I’d always ask about the girl he was going to date when he’d be back after treatment and if he’d introduce her to me,” Harbhajan said.
Kohli chipped in: “He didn’t want anyone to feel shocked and whenever we used to call him, he sounded normal. He’s like my big brother and I’m glad that I know him from close quarters.” Dhoni said that the selectors were right in picking Yuvraj for the T20s against the Kiwis last year. “It was not an emotional decision. Yuvraj’s a fighter and he has shown that he can take any challenge head on,” he said.