Tough initiation into cricket and six-sixes-in-an-over feat point to Yuvraj's mental acumen
Yuvraj Singh's road appears to have more gravel than ever before. But he is no stranger to the hard yards.
It all started in his childhood days, long before he made his debut in the 2000 Champions Trophy in Kenya; much longer before being India's knight in shining armour at the 2011 World Cup.
Yuvraj Singh acknowledges the cheers for his 12-ball fifty which included
six consecutive sixes in one over from England's Stuart Broad during the
ICC World Twenty20 at Durban in 2007. Pic/Getty Images
Waking up in the confronting Chandigarh winters to train with father Yograj; at times hitting balls at midnight; travelling in a crowded train from Andheri to Churchgate where he trained at Dilip Vengsarkar's academy... all this made him a cricketing toughie.
The experience of coping with challenging times will help Yuvraj in his quest to win the biggest match of his life -- against cancer that has turned his life upside down.
Yograj was seen on television last evening and he was more than just misty-eyed. 'Yuvi's father breaks down' screamed a headline below his sullen face. By playing for India and succeeding, Yuvraj realised his passionate father's dream. Little did anyone know, a nightmare was just round the corner.
Indian sports psychologist BP Bam sounds like an astrologer when he says, "Yuvraj will definitely come out of this." But Bam knows a tough cookie when he sees one.
By being hard on him, Yograj has given Yuvraj mental strength. Tough conditions make you or break you. It helped Yuvraj, who saw this challenges as opportunities to succeed, felt Bam. In a 2006 chat with this writer at his Sector 17 petrol pump in Chandigarh, Yograj elaborated on how hard he was with his son. Here are excerpts from that interview:
* I even threw a glass at him when he played a bad shot in the nets and I didn't tolerate no-balls.
* Yuvi had to stand only 15 yards away from the bat for fielding practice. The other boys used to run away because the ball used to be hit very hard.
* No TV in our house, but there were 100 bats, pads, plastic balls. No holidays or picnics too � only cricket.
* I used to wake him up at 5 am for conditioning even in winter. At times, he used to bolt the door and I would come yelling. There were times I used to open the door and throw water on his face and make him get up.
* He probably felt I was a butcher.
"Mental strength is Yuvraj's strength and this will help him fight his latest adversity. He is a very tough person," Bam adds before stressing that the southpaw's six sixes in an over against England in the 2007 World T20 couldn't be achieved with a good measure of mental strength: "Anyone who can hit six sixes in an over has to be very strong up there.
He took responsibility in a scenario where his team could have lost the game. Going for a shot that fetches you the maximum number of runs six times is no joke. Timing comes into it, mental strength too and that is why very few people have been able to do it at a competitive level. The mental strength required is tremendous."
When a credible sports psychologist says Yuvraj will conquer his illness from a mental make-up aspect, his views must be a source of comfort. Bam signs off by saying, "Yuvraj will play better because he will now value things more.'