Rajkot: He should have been on cloud nine after smashing a match-winning unbeaten 77 against Australia in the one-off T20 International in his comeback match, but Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh said he had mixed feelings as it came on the day Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from Test cricket.
An emotional Yuvraj, who guided India to a six-wicket win over Australia here, dedicated his unbeaten innings to Tendulkar who on Thursday announced that he would quit Test cricket after playing his 200th match against the West Indies next month.
"Well I don't know if I am happy or sad. Happy that I hit the ball and sad day that Sachin is retiring. But really happy the way I hit the ball and how I continued to play well since the India A and West Indies A series," Yuvraj said at the post-match press conference.
"Definitely, I would like to dedicate it to Sachin and hopefully, maybe tell him on the phone as well. That is the least I can do, dedicate this knock to him. I will also like to dedicate this knock to my mother who prayed a lot for my comeback. Everyday she has been praying for me," he said.
The 31-year-old batsman, who last played an international match in January, was recalled to the national team after a string of fine performances for India A against West Indies A and a solid display for India Blue in the NKP Salve Challenger Series. (Also read: Yuvraj says India A was perfect platform for comeback)
"Yuvi is back my friend," he told the media.
Yuvraj said it was an emotional moment for the country when an iconic cricketer like Tendulkar retires and added that he did not want to see him leave the game.
"I don't think I am going to let him go away. I am going to catch hold of his feet and not (let him) leave the dressing room. It has been amazing to play with him for so many years. One of the greatest players to have played the game. I don't know what to say," he said, adding that the team did not discuss Tendulkar's retirement in the dressing room.
"There are so many things to say about Sachin, probably the best Indian cricketer ever played. Just the milestone as not only as a cricketer but just as a man, who is an ambassador of cricket around the world. So it is going to be an emotional time for the whole of India," Yuvraj said.
"Sachin will always be very special to me. I am sure I will have the opportunity to play with him, I don't know if I will (be selected) but if I am not playing, I will definitely come and watch (his last match)," he added.
Yuvraj, who survived a germ cell cancer, said that people should respect Tendulkar's decision.
"It is up to him when he wanted to retire. A player of his stature should decide when he wants to leave. I would want him to play for 10 more years with us. It is his decision and we need to respect that. It will be an emotional time for India when he plays his last match," he said.
Describing the qualities he likes about Tendulkar, the flamboyant left-hand batsman said that it would be tough to see the champion batsman go.
"He is a very down-to-earth person. He never showed he is the great Sachin Tendulkar. He was always trying to reach out to youngsters although we were a bit reluctant to go out to him. Personally he has always guided me on and off the field about things in my life, specially the World Cup journey. So it has been very special playing with him. I can't really express it in words. It is tough for me to see him go."
He said it would be next to impossible for anybody to fill in the shoes of the 40-year-old retiring batsman.
"The way he hits the ball, the way he is always still. The best batsman I have seen in my career, technique-wise. How he has been smart all these years to know what bowlers are going to bowl to him. He always been one or two steps ahead, and that is why he been consistent for so many years. To have such consistency over so many years is really tough for any batsman. He is just something amazing. He has been a God's gift to India. It is going to be difficult for anybody to replace him as the next Tendulkar," he said.
Yuvraj rated his comeback knock as special and said, "Definitely it is special. I have come back after a few months. I have worked quite hard in the off season and I have worked on the mental aspect of my game," he said.
"Just happy the way I hit the ball. I have been playing well in the domestic season. I had a tough off season, shed a few kilos, so I am happy the way I am hitting the ball," he added.
On the unbeaten 102-run stand he had with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj said, "We have had a lot of partnerships in the past. And we have always discussed which bowlers to go after. If I get out then, one person is attacking and one person is trying to rotate the strike. We have a very good understanding between us for last couple of years. So talking to him always helps."
He said he hoped to continue his form in the seven-match ODI series starting October 13 in Pune.
"I hope to continue the good form. Play according to the situation and try to make India win again. Australia is ranked number two in ODIs. They have a very good side. It is going to be a good series so I hope to contribute with my batting, bowling and fielding. It is going to be a tough series and hopefully we can play good tough cricket, sensible cricket and win the series," he said.