Despite being one of India’s most prolific match-winners in white-ball cricket and one of the main reasons behind India winning two World Cups – 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 ODI World Cup – Yuvraj Singh never captained India, not even for a single match. Two years after his retirement, the swashbuckling left-hander who rarely spoke about the regrets of not getting the India captaincy, revealed he was expecting to lead India in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 ahead of eventual captain MS Dhoni.
While speaking in the ’22 Yarns’ podcast with Gaurav Kapur, Yuvraj shared how senior cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and Rahul Dravid’s decision to opt out of the tournament has given risen to the hopes of being named India captain.
“So, basically, India had lost the 50-over World Cup, right? I mean there was quite a turmoil in Indian cricket and then there was a two-month tour of England and there was also a month tour in between with South Africa and Ireland. And then there was a month of T20 World Cup so there were like four months away from home. So probably the seniors thought that they need a break and obviously, nobody took the T20 World Cup seriously. I was expecting to captain India in the T20 World Cup and then it was announced MS Dhoni will be the captain,” Yuvraj Singh said.
Yuvraj had his reasons to believe he was next in line after Dravid decided to step down as he was already one of the mainstays of the limited-overs side and slowly finding his feet in red-ball cricket.
But the selectors decided to go with MS Dhoni, who had just begun his meteoric rise to international cricket.
Speaking about his relationship with Dhoni, Yuvraj said he never had any troubles getting along with the former India skipper.
“Yes, obviously, whoever becomes captain you got to support that guy whether it was Rahul, whether it was [Sourav] Ganguly, whoever in the future, end of the day you want to be a team man and that’s how I was. So, anyway, the seniors took a rest – Ganguly, Dravid, Sachin. So Zak [Zaheer Khan] says ‘I also should take rest, it has been a long tour’. I remember the first game was between West Indies and South Africa, right? And Chris Gayle hit a hundred off 50-55 balls. So Zak sends me a message in the night and he goes ‘Thank God! I rested for this tournament.’ and when we won the tournament he said ‘Oh no! I shouldn’t have rested’,” Yuvraj added.
Against all odds, India went on to win the T20 World Cup.
Yuvraj, who was one of India’s brightest performers in the tournament, said, the young Indian side did not have a definite strategy, they were just playing their natural game.
“But anyway, starting for the 2007 World Cup, we were a young team. We didn’t have an international coach or really big names. Lalchand Rajput was our coach and I think Venkatesh Prasad was our bowling coach and we were just a young team under a young captain which just landed in South Africa. I don’t think we had too much of a strategy, no one had a clue about T20 strategies because it was the first tournament. So we thought ‘Let’s just go and play the way you know’,” said Yuvraj.