Former India captain Sourav Ganguly paid tribute to Yuvraj Singh after the latter announced his retirement on Monday.
It was under Ganguly that Singh made his debut as a fresh-faced teenager. The left-hander had a blazing start to his international career, hitting a match-winning 84 off 80 balls against Australia in a bowling attack that comprised of stalwarts such as Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee at Nairobi.
Ganguly remarked that picking Singh was a gamble that he took in 2000. He said: “I was just six-seven months into my tenure and there was a word going around that there is a young cricketer who is very, very good.
“I remember getting into one of the selection meetings and one of them asked my opinion of him. I was told that he was just 18, strikes the ball well and that he had a great U-19 World Cup.”
The 46-year-old said that in Singh, he saw a player who was ready for the big stage. The swashbuckling all-rounder would play a stellar role in India winning the World T20 in 2007 and the 2011 World Cup on home soil.
Ganguly said: “I told the selectors: ‘If he is good, just pick him’. He came into the side against Kenya in Nairobi. He made a mark straight away in the ICC knockout [in 2000].
“We beat Australia in the first game. He got runs, run-outs...he was magnificent on the field. You could see that here was a young cricketer who was ready for the world stage.
“He followed that with exploits at the World Cup. He hit six sixes against Stuart Broad in Durban, a very quick wicket. You have to be seriously good to play 300 ODIs for India. As for me and him, it was a relationship that only got better with time; an out-and-out match winner in this format.”