Mohali: Yuvraj Singh reacted sharply to Kevin Pietersen’s “pie-chucker” comment but added he and the England captain were good friends off the field. The aggressive left-hander said such remarks actually strengthened his resolve.
In a rather hilarious press conference, he said, “I knew the first question would be this, that’s why I announced ‘the pie-chucker is coming!’ When I got up in the morning and read the newspapers I asked myself, ‘what does this mean?’
“A few friends told me that it meant a ‘useless kind of bowler’. It shows Pietersen hates getting out to me. Well, a useless bowler getting him out on so many occasions could be because of useless batting!”
Then, Yuvraj acknowledged Pietersen’s ability as a batsman. “But that’s all right. He’s phenomenal player and batted like a champion.”
Yuvraj said Pietersen had attempted to get under his skin. “This brought out the best out of me in the second innings in Chennai. I tried the same when he batted here and it brought out the best in him.”
Added Yuvraj, “I don’t seek to make friends on the field. But off it, Pietersen and I get along well.”
He dwelt further on the subject of on-field chat. “Sometimes it fires you up, sometimes it backfires. So I really don’t mind the chat. I look forward to the challenge every time I get on to the ground.”
Yuvraj was not willing to call Pietersen his bunny. “You play so much cricket, you’re bound to get out to someone. But I know he hates my bowling, and I’m happy with that.”
On his coming on to bowl on day two, Yuvraj said, “Obviously, Dhoni told me to come and bowl. Pietersen almost goofed up on the sixth ball. But I think that made him stronger and he got a hundred.”
The punishing left-hander said he was willing to give bowling tips to Pietersen. “I’ll tell him how to bowl in the rough. We’ll have a chat about this when we finish the game.”
Yuvraj spoke about a sense of bonding in the Indian team. “The team is gelling very well, enjoying each other’s success. With Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton around, the atmosphere in the dressing room is good.
“If we are under pressure, we know we have a bunch of guys who can come up with match-winning knocks or spells. Our bowling has been exceptional. Along with Harbhajan, Zaheer has been the frontline bowler and Ishant is doing well, so we have a great all-round bunch of players.”
The spouthpaw said his match-winning partnership with Sachin Tendulkar in Chennai would forever stay in his memory. “Getting 85 not out on the last day in Chennai was special for me because you don’t chase 387 everyday.
“With Sachin there at the other end, the scene will remain in my memories. A couple of other things, like winning in Australia and the Twenty20 victories are also right up there.”
Ability in Tests
Yuvraj said he never doubted his ability to come good in Tests. “I never had a doubt. I knew the runs will come if I spent some time in the middle. If you work hard on your game, the runs will come.”
On the Indian team’s work ethics, he said, “Everyone has taken responsibility. In tough situations, someone puts his hand up.
“We back each other, we enjoy each other’s performance. There is great unity in the team and we are like a bunch of schoolboys having fun.”
Asked about Dhoni’s captaincy, Yuvraj said, “He’s very cool-headed. He always has a Plan B. I don’t see that in most captains. Like when Pietersen and Freddie (Flintoff) got a few runs together, he slowed down the game.
“The moment we had two wickets, we pounced on the batsmen… He’s always thinking, he’s always asking for suggestions from everyone.”
Stuart Broad said he hugely enjoyed dismissing Rahul Dravid. The paceman said the plan was to bowl a consistent line and length and make it difficult for the Indians to score quickly.
He compared Ian Bell’s run-out of Sehwag with some of dismissals effected by Jonty Rhodes.