‘Haan Yuvi, bol, Mai apna bag pack kar riha haan (Yes Yuvi, tell me. I’m packing). Yuvraj said ‘Dad, Sachin paaji will call you. He will tell you about his son. Please help him, Yuvraj says.
Moments after Yuvraj called, Sachin Tendulkar called and greeted Yograj. Tendulkar asked if he could train his son, Arjun, for a few days before the Ranji Trophy.
Yograj was due to fly to the UK but had 20 days ahead of him. Yograj, who himself is a former Indian cricketer, having played 1 Test and 6 ODIs for India between 1980 and 1981, agreed and asked Sachin to send Arjun to the DAV College ground in Chandigarh for the to meet.
Arjun, who is playing for Goa in the Ranji Trophy this season, met Yograj.
Yograj had a long chat with Arjun and then the former Indian cricketer said one thing and signed for the day.
“Just forget that you are the son of a legend called Sachin Tendulkar. You have your own identity. Just come tomorrow and start practicing. I will train you for 15 days,” Yograj told Arjun.
Arjun returned, packed his kit and came to the stadium the next day. Yograj was already waiting for him.
“When Arjun came. I asked him to run 10 laps around the stadium. He was running well. Then I asked him to play in the net. The problem was that his left arm was very close to his ear while bowling. J “I fixed that first. He was a quick learner. He learned that thing very quickly. He started bowling well,” Yograj told TimesofIndia.com in an interview from the UK.
“I trained him because Yuvi and Sachin asked me. And I didn’t want to say no to Sachin. He was just concerned about his son,” Yograj added.
Now Arjun had to tick another box – his stick.
Yograj, who is known to be a tough leader on the pitch, asked Arjun to pad. Yograj had assigned bowlers to Arjun and the 23-year-old was hitting the ball all over the park. He also shot a few sixes.
Yograj was impressed but he didn’t praise Arjun. In fact, he said “come out of your father’s shadow”. Work hard and you will become the best all-rounder in the world”.
“The kid is very talented. His departure from Mumbai cricket team is a huge huge loss for Mumbai. They will realize that soon. They failed to find out his abilities. I trained this guy because Sachin and Yuvi asked for me. Sachin was worried about his son. . He knows his son is talented, that’s why he wants us to take care of him. When I entered the field, I told every bowler to stop treating Arjun like Sachin’s son and play him with a fierce pace and produce the best spin against him Arjun hit them all over the place He’s a destroyer with the bald -mouse,” Yograj told TimesofIndia.com.
“He’s an all-rounder. So why did the teams send him back in order? He’s a hard-hitting all-rounder like Yuvraj. I see a lot of similarities between Yuvi and Arjun. He will go far. One day the world will remember his name like they remember Sachin’s name. Arjun will become the most destructive batsman in the world,” the 64-year-old added.
‘MAI KHELEGA’ – WHEN ARJUN RECALLED YOGRAJ FROM A YOUNG SACHIN
Tendulkar was hit in the nose by a Waqar Younis bouncer in Sialkot during his first round in 1989. Despite the injury, the 16-year-old continued to punch without fear. His words “hand khelega” after being hit have become part of cricketing folklore.
When Arjun was training under Yograj, a similar incident happened and the 64-year-old former cricketer hugged the youngster.
“Arjun was on the court and a direct throw from a boy hit his chin. He was almost bleeding. I looked at his face and said go apply some ice on it and come tomorrow. He brought some ice cream. ice cream and said ‘mai khelega’ He called back I remembered Sachin when he was hit by the Waqar bouncer I just hugged Arjun and said no let’s go to the doctor. There was a lot of swelling on his face. But he came to practice the next day. I loved his determination. Yograj called back.
“I said to him, Arjun, duniya se alag chalna padta hai, tabhi aage badhte hain aur tabhi sabb yaad rakhte hain (Arjun, we have to go our own way. Only then will you succeed and all will remember of you)” he said.
“YOU ARE LIKE YUVI”
Yuvraj Singh was by far one of the best all-around players the world of cricket has ever produced. A versatile left-arm spin bowler, Yuvraj played a vital role in India’s two World Cup victories – the 2007 ICC T20 World Cup and the 2011 ICC World Cup. best known for breaking 6 six-for-6 balls off a Stuart Broad in the 2007 T20 World Cup.
Yuvraj, the 2011 World Cup man of the tournament, went on to play 40 Tests, 304 ODIs and 58 T20Is for India between 2000 and 2017 and scored 11,778 international runs.
Yograj, when he asked Arjun to punch for 20 rounds in 15 minutes, the youngster showed some hard punches. He picked lengths correctly, played aerial and lob shots, and also shot shots.
“Arjun reminded me of Yuvi. Arjun is more of a batsman than a bowler. He is a devastating batsman. Yuvi used to bat the same way. Over time, we started to share the relationship of a grandfather and a grandson. I’m really happy that I can do something for him (Arjun),” Yograj said.
Getting up early in the morning, doing long bowling spells and dealing with hundreds of knockdowns were part of Arjun’s daily training regimen. Yograj had made a list of things that Arjun had to follow without fail.
After the workouts, Yograj asked Arjun to video call him and talk about his day’s activities.
“One day he didn’t answer my call. I scolded him via messages. I wanted him to focus. That’s all,” Yograj said.
SACHIN’S CALL FOR A “STRICT” YOGRAJ
Yograj knew he had 15 days to coach the youngster and he wanted to give his all before leaving for the UK. Sachin, after a few days, called Yograj to inquire about his son and his progress.
“I told Sachin one thing ‘Arjun ko iski maa se dur rakhna’ (Keep Arjun away from his mother). No mother wants to see her child injured, swollen or bleeding. I told Sachin that I wanted Arjun stays focused and keeps doing what he did. I told Sachin that your son is talented and Mumbai lost that talent,” Yograj told TimesofIndia.com.
“Arjun will become one of the best cricketers in the world. I want to create Arjun for Sachin. Arjun will become as fearless as Yuvi. Arjun had to come out of his father’s shadow. I told him – you are Arjun first , then Arjun Tendulkar and the son of Sachin.”
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: CENTURY ON DEBUT
Arjun was ready for his first class debut. Before padding, he spoke to Yograj. Yograj said “Arjun, go express yourself”.
Playing for Goa, Arjun slammed a century on his first class debut against Rajasthan. The feat came exactly 34 years after Sachin, then 15, started his first-class journey with an unbeaten 100 against Gujarat at Wankhede Stadium.
Battling at No. 7, Arjun crushed 120 out of 207 deliveries, including two sixes and 16 fours. He had moved from Mumbai to Goa at the start of the season in search of more opportunities.
“Arjun was extremely happy. He was almost in tears. I was extremely happy for him. But I told him strictly, just focus on the next game. many in the future. Sachin and Yuvi also called me after Arjun’s achievement. I told them to wait and watch this kid and let him be Arjun,” Yograj concluded.