World Cup Diary: How Yuvraj’s pep talk put Shubman Gill back on his feet

"Gill should take a leaf out of my son’s book," says Yograj Singh

Indian cricketers Yuvraj Singh (left) and Shubman Gill (photos: Getty Images)
Indian cricketers Yuvraj Singh (left) and Shubman Gill (photos: Getty Images)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

It was surely heartening news for the India camp, ahead of their blockbuster game against Pakistan on 14 October, that Shubman Gill would join the squad in Ahmedabad and participate in a practice session on Thursday, 12 October.

Gill, who has missed the first two games of the World Cup due to dengue, had apparently received a pep talk from Yuvraj Singh — a cancer survivor and a sort of big brother to the Punjab batter.

Speaking to ANI, Singh — a two-time World Cup winner (50-overs World Cup in 2011 and T20 World Cup in 2007) — said: ‘’Shubman Gill ko maine tagda kar diya hai (I have strengthened Shubman Gill). I told him that I played in the World Cup battling cancer, (and) I got ready quickly to join the team. Hopefully, he will be ready for the India vs Pakistan game. (Though) when you have a fever and dengue, it’s really tough to play a cricket match—I hope that if he is fit, then he will definitely play.’’ 

If Yuvi’s words were enough, his father Yograj Singh took it to the next level.

Speaking to National Herald from Chandigarh, the former fast bowler-turned-actor in Punjabi movies, said: ‘’I am not surprised at Yuvi’s advice at all. I consider my son as a soldier-cricketer who put his life on the line to play that World Cup. I am glad to learn that Shubman (Gill) has joined the camp, as he should be ready to give it his all, as India look to win a major ICC trophy after a decade.’’  

Gill, in the best form of his life, has scored 1,230 runs in ODIs alone this calendar year, but is unlikely to be rushed into the playing XI for Saturday’s game, given he had to be hospitalised in Chennai for monitoring with a dipping platelet count.

However, his renewed physical presence with the national team puts paid to all speculation on whether the team management is contemplating having a stand-by opener ready. 

The heroics of Yuvraj Singh, who suffered from a rare germ cell tumour in the lung, has been a part of folklore in Indian cricket.

He vomited blood during his century against the West Indies and went on to score 362 runs and picked up 15 wickets with his left-arm spin. Soon after the World Cup, the braveheart went to the US for treatment, with mother Shabnam Singh keeping vigil through his recovery. 

Yuvraj Singh recovered fully, to return to the Indian squad and play the 2012 T20 World Cup, and last played for India in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.

He eventually retired from all forms of cricket in 2019.

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