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Cancer was like falling in ditch after mountain high of World Cup, says Yuvraj Singh

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On April 2, 2011, Yuvraj Singh lifted the precious ICC World Cup trophy at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai along with the player-of-the-tournament award. Shortly after Yuvraj was diagnosed with cancer and in his own words "it was a very dark moment".

Yuvraj Singh put in a mammoth effort in the 2011 World Cup with both the bat and the ball -- 362 runs and 15 wickets -- and he was right at the top of his game.

Four years after his scintillating moment of 6 sixes in a Stuart Broad over during the 2007 World T20, Yuvraj Singh became the first ever player to take five wickets and score 50 runs in a World Cup match, after the performance against Ireland.

However, all that success, happiness and elation came crashing down when he came to know he had cancer -- "suddenly you fall in the ditch".

"The diagnosis of cancer shortly after the high of the World Cup victory, it took the joy out of everything, it was a very dark moment in my life," Yuvraj told CricketNext.

"When you win the World Cup, when you are Player of the Tournament, you are on top of the mountain. Suddenly, you fall in the ditch. It's just life, you don't expect that -- you are left with no choice. I had to bounce back and I did it in what I thought was the best way I could."

Yuvraj went to the United States for his treatment and returned to India in 2012 after getting healed. If the journey to reach the top of world cricket before the World Cup was mammoth, this perhaps was the Everest.

Nobody gave Yuvraj a chance! With youngsters constantly being blooded in the Indian team, nobody thought Yuvraj would be able to make a comeback. But he did! It was not easy, he was berated for the slow innings in the 2014 World T20 final against Sri Lanka where the Islanders won by six wickets.

Yuvraj, however, said that he wanted to prove a point by just playing for India again and that was his biggest motivation.

"I wanted to prove a point, that I could come back and play for India. That was my biggest motivation. I wanted to prove that point to myself, as much as to anyone else. Everybody said you can't, and I said I can. It was mind over matter. I had some good games, some bad games, I was in and out of the team.

"But I still managed to play a lot of cricket after that - I played a couple of T20 World Cups and a bit of one-day cricket when everybody said that it won't be possible. That's the biggest joy in life, when people say it is not possible and you can make it possible. People thought that my career was over after cancer, and I came back and registered my highest one-day score. That was only self-belief, nothing else."

Last year against England, Yuvraj Singh played out a classic partnership with MS Dhoni, both in the wane of their careers. Yuvraj Singh scored 150 while Dhoni made 134. However, Yuvraj has not played much since then while Dhoni is still a crucial part of the Indian team.

Yuvraj still wants to be very much a part of the Indian team's plans and for that he even went to England for five weeks in the summer this year to work on his fitness.

"I didn't have a good domestic season last year, I had a bad IPL. I took a break and I thought that if I am looking to play another year or two years, I want to go playing this game happily because this game has given me everything.

"So I went to England for five weeks to a training camp this summer, I worked hard on my fitness. I was in Cirencester, at a habitat centre. I worked with a trainer called James, a former Marine, for five weeks. And when I got back home, I had another three weeks on my own; I had eight weeks of fitness before I started the season. I didn't have too much good (batting) practice before coming here, I just played one practice game against Madhya Pradesh. But I just felt mentally very good.

"I felt that I was fitter, I was stronger compared to last year, when I was not in a good mental space. The key for me has always been to be in a good mental space, that's when I have played good cricket. I have just focussed on being in a good space and obviously, the results showed. I have been hitting the ball really well and scored a few consistent scores. Let's see what happens now."

SACHIN TENDULKAR'S ADVICE TO YUVRAJ SINGH

Yuvraj recently score a 96 for Punjab in the Vijay Hazare Trophy against Railways, missing out on a hundred by just a bit. Yuvraj felt selection was not in his hands but he wanted to enjoy his cricket -- something that India's most reverred batsman Sachin Tendulkar advised him.

"Obviously, I am looking to play cricket till 2019, whatever cricket I get to play. Obviously, selection is not in my hands. What is in my hands is to work hard and get better at whatever I am doing - whether it's batting, bowling, fielding or my fitness. From when I was dropped last year, I have been thinking that all I can do is focus on myself and my cricket.

"I was speaking to Sachin (Tendulkar), who has always been my mentor, and he asked me, 'Why do we play the game? Just for the love of the game. Yes, we do want to play for India, but also, the game has given us everything'. I just want to enjoy the game, to appreciate that it has given me everything; I respect the game. I have cleared my fitness (yo-yo) test, I have bowled, I have got runs. I have done almost everything that is in my control.

"As I said, selection is not in my control. I am sure everyone is looking at the youngsters for building the team for this World Cup and the next World Cup. It's up to the selectors and the coach/captain to decide, it is entirely their call. I just want to play whatever cricket I get to play till 2019, and then take a call."

Photos: Stars who have battled cancer

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