Speaking for the first time since announcing his international retirement, celebrated all-rounder Yuvraj Singh named India's 2011 Men's Cricket World Cup win as the biggest moment in his career.
Yuvraj was Player of the Series in that tournament, and finally bringing cricket's biggest trophy to his country, combined with it being a home campaign, tops any of his other achievements. "I think the biggest moment in my career would definitely be winning the World Cup in 2011 and being Man of the Series," he said.
"And we won it in India as well, and after 28 years. There cannot be a bigger high."
Yuvraj outlined that a yearning for any personal milestones went out the window when compared to a World Cup victory with India. "I'd rather have winning the World Cup than scoring 10,000 runs," he said. "I never thought about 10,000 runs, I always thought about winning the World Cup."
Yuvraj was one of his country's most successful ODI players, with 52 half-centuries and and a total of 8702 runs in the format, but world-beating success in the longer format was something that eluded him somewhat. He only achieved 40 caps in Test cricket, having made his debut in 2003 when a plethora of greats were solidified in the Indian batting line-up.
"I think I played at a time when it was very difficult to get a spot," he said. "I played with (VVS) Laxman, (Sourav) Ganguly who was captain, Sachin (Tendulkar), Rahul (Dravid), Viru (Virender Sehwag) started opening … It was very hard to find space in the middle order. And that time we used to get one or two Test matches (to prove ourselves) compared to guys today who get 10 to 15 Test matches to play all the time. So I never really got that spot.
"Every time I failed, I would lose my spot because it was just me, or Sourav or Laxman ... I finally got my spot, but then I got diagnosed with cancer, so ... I don't know what to say. It's been unfortunate. If you look at the whole journey it's been great, but unfortunate not to play [Tests] ... another 40 Test matches would have been awesome.
"I was batting at No. 6, I averaged about 34-35, which is not great. I would have loved to average 40. But for me, at the end of the day, it's about winning games, and every time I scored runs I'm sure it helped win the game for India. It's a regret, definitely, but I've given my all."
After naming Ganguly and MS Dhoni as the two best captains that he ever played under, Yuvraj went on to list his most formidable opponents in the international arena, citing a certain Sri Lankan spinner as the best he had ever come up against. "I think Muttiah Muralitharan would be the toughest I've faced," he admitted.
"The other would be Glenn McGrath. The overseas cricketers I admire ... Ricky Ponting is someone I really admire as a batsman. AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle ... I think these guys were serious powerhouses when I played against them."
When quizzed as to which current player reminds him most of himself, Yuvraj named young Indian wicket-keeper and fellow left-handed batsman Rishabh Pant, claiming that the 21-year-old could even surpass his own abilities. "Not exactly myself, I think he has the potential to be better," he said.
"He's already scored two Test hundreds away, in Australia and England. I think that boy has great potential to be a very attacking, match-winning left-hander. I'm looking forward to seeing him in the next few years."
What a fantastic career you have had Yuvi.— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) June 10, 2019
You have come out as a true champ everytime the team needed you. The fight you put up through all the ups & downs on & off the field is just amazing. Best of luck for your 2nd innings & thanks for all that you have done for 🇮🇳 Cricket.🙌 pic.twitter.com/J9YlPs87fv
Yuvraj said he hoped to be involved with the sport in the future, but for now, he plans to enjoy a period away from the game and spend time with his foundation helping those affected by cancer. "I'll enjoy myself for a year or two, after that I'll think about it," he said.
"Right now I'm going to take some time off. I definitely want to give something back to cricket, and hopefully do some work in the future with the younger generation."
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