Yuvraj Singh and Chris Gayle. Both left-handers, both handy spinners. Arrived within a year on the international stage. One played 304 ODIs, the other 298 (and counted). Each with an ODI average in the mid-30s. Each with a hit rate of around 87. Monster Sixth.
Now T20 freelancers. Gayle returns to the venue of his international debut (against India, Toronto, September 1999). Yuvraj on his first trip to Canada – though he felt at home with the hospitality and food he was treated to.
Both are here for the second season of the GT20. Yuvraj becomes captain of the Toronto Nationals. Gayle will lead Vancouver Knights, the team he led to the title last year. Both are going to the opening game on Thursday. On a ground that has been prepared in the last two months.
In front of a crowd that expects big hits. Gayle has said he’ll make himself bow as soon as Yuvraj comes in to punch. Yuvraj has assured everyone that he will not bowl. Not at Gayle. Not after Gayle’s undefeated 175 ended in IPL 2013.
Gayle’s White T-Shirt Announces: 40ShadesOfGayle. In just a few months he prepares for the celebrations for his 40th birthday. He asked Rihanna to perform for the occasion. She has a lot to do, he says, but she still hopes. The 40th birthday should be like the 16th birthday. Tickets cost $ 80 and the proceeds go to charity.
Yuvraj Singh has not planned a party, but the next three weeks may turn out to be an extended celebration for him. Every few steps he took in public, there were requests for selfies and autographs. He is far from home, but he can not escape worship. It’s not just the fans who wanted a part of him. Some of the Canadian players were also impressed by the stars.
Take Varun Sehdev, the renegade all-rounder of the Canadian national team. Varun grew up in Jalandhar and was 12 years old when he gave Yuvraj his international debut. There was something about this 84, against McGrath, Gillespie, and Lee that blew Varun down.
A few years later he played for Punjab U-17, then for Himachal U-19 and made it to the Ranji Trophy. He hoped to catch a glimpse of Yuvraj as they trained in Chandigarh, in a camp or at a game, to have the chance to meet his childhood hero. But no luck in 2010, he left the British league to play cricket. And later that year he moved to Canada.
On Tuesday, almost 19 years after seeing Yuvraj for the first time, 12 years after he and his friends were impressed by the six-six against Stuart Broad – all in one room in Jalandhar –
Sehdev finally got his chance. “I went to him in the hotel lobby and introduced myself. I spoke in Punjabi and told him that I would like to take a picture with him. He was so down to earth. No attitude or something. Just spoke as normal. That just shows you what a legend he is. “
Sehdev, who belongs to the Winnipeg Hawks, has the chance to bowl Gayle on Sunday and Yuvraj on Monday. He hopes he can get both out and make a name for himself. But he is also thrilled that he has the chance to compete against some of the best.
“They learn a lot from these big names. Dealing with pressure. How do I approach certain situations in the game? How to motivate your teammates. It’s a great opportunity for us to get better. “
Which, in fact, is what the tournament hopes to achieve. Use the crowd to watch Yuvraj and Gayle, but leave a few lasting memories of cricketers like Sehdev.