Sachin Tendulkar is not just a cricketing idol for Yuvraj Singh but a “guardian angel” who would offer incredible solutions and lessons in times of crisis, both on and off field. One of India’s greatest white ball players and hero of two World Cup triumphs, Yuvraj has been one of Tendulkar’s closest friends in the Indian dressing room and for him the maestro is a life coach.
“When I played international cricket, we had coaches but if I faced any technical issues with my batting, he was my ‘go-to’ person. He provided solutions but he wasn’t just my cricketing idol,” Yuvraj, currently vacationing in the UK, told PTI ahead of the legend’s 50th birthday.
“Beyond 22 yards also, he is like a guardian angel for me. Whenever I have faced any personal crisis or dilemmas in life, Paaji would be one of the first persons that I would dial. And he would always have the best life lessons and advice for me,” he said. (IPL 2023: Sachin Tendulkar Wants To Play With Son Arjun Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma For Mumbai Indians, Check Viral Post Here)
He remembered how concerned Tendulkar was when he was having sleepless nights and regularly coughing and vomiting during the 2011 World Cup, which he singlehandedly won for India with more than 350 runs and 15 wickets.
“Even I didn’t know it was cancer. Sachin would regularly check on me and also during my treatment in the US, he was always concerned about my recovery.”
Yuvraj even remembers when he met Tendulkar for the first time and it was the legendary Kapil Dev, who introduced the teenager Tendulkar to schoolboy Yuvraj.
“I think Sachin had then just started playing for India and had become a sensation. It was Kapil Paaji, who took me to Sachin and I shook hands with him for the first time,” Yuvraj couldn’t recollect the series as he was barely 10 years old then.
For the record, Yuvraj’s father Yograj Singh and Kapil Dev learnt their cricket together in Chandigarh under the same coach, Dronacharya awardee late Desh Prem Azad. Ask him about his favourite on-field partnership with Tendulkar and Yuvraj remembers a very “special Test match”.
“If you look back at the scorebook, Sachin and I haven’t had too many long partnerships in ODI cricket as he generally opened and I batted at No. 6 for better part of my career,” Yuvraj said.
“But in Test cricket, we had a 150 plus stand against England in Chennai back in December, 2008. We were chasing 387 and won the game during late afternoon. Sachin scored a hundred and I got 80 odd (85). But that Test remains special as it was the first match after 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai. The country was coping with the tragedy and we were all very emotional and overwhelmed with so many innocent lives lost. And that Test happened within a fortnight.”
“For Sachin, coming from Mumbai, it was even more deep and personal. That partnership on the fifth day and to chase a near 400 target will remain special. I was so ecstatic that I lifted Sachin once the chase was complete,” Yuvraj said.
In ODIs, Yuvraj remembers his 138 run partnership off only 16.4 overs against a New Zealand attack comprising Tim Southee, Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram.
“We talk about the two knocks in Sharjah and the 98-run innings at Centurion which I believe was his best ODI knock.
“But one innings close to my heart would be his 163 at Christchurch in 2009 and he could have easily gotten a double hundred that day but was retired hurt. I also got 80 plus (87) and I think we both at one stage scored 72 off five overs. This hundred isn’t much talked about but it was an effort worth remembering.”
For his friends, Tendulkar remains a prankster and Yuvraj has often been a ‘victim’ of his numerous practical jokes.
“Sachin loves Japanese food and I was then a junior in the team. So he took some of us out for dinner and I tasted sushi for the first time. But a disaster happened after some time. Sachin told me to taste another cuisine Wasabi and promised me it was sweet in taste. I started chewing and I was a mess as it was compete opposite.”
Call it a pleasant beauty of life, Tendulkar’s son Arjun, who recently had a couple of impressive IPL games is a big Yuvraj fan.
“I know. I looked up to his dad and he looks up to me. He is a southpaw like me and all the hardwork that he put in, is showing. But trust me, the kid can also hit big sixes. In the pre-season, he wanted to train and I arranged for it at my father’s academy. My father dotes on him.”
So what will be his wish on his role model’s 50th birthday.
“Obviously long and healthy life and keeping us entertained. But on his 50th birthday, I just want to challenge him to beat me in a game of golf,” he concluded in jest.