In a freewheeling interview with ANI, Yuvraj opened up on his hopes from the WTC final, whether the championship holds the same weight as the 50-over World Cup, his expectations from opener Shubman Gill, the Indian women playing Test cricket after a while and his love for motorsport.
“Definitely, my favourites will always be India. New Zealand has the advantage after winning the Test series against England. They have had more time on the park, they played two Test matches. They have had more time over there and India had one practice game. I think cricket is a great sport, one day or one session can change the game around. India has a lot of match-winners in their squad,” said Yuvraj.
“You never know. Hopefully, it would be an exciting Test match. Sometimes you feel Test cricket is dying but then you see India winning in Australia and Test cricket is revived again. We see New Zealand beat England in England. Nothing like Test cricket, probably the best format I have watched and I have played,” he added.
When asked whether winning the WTC would be the same as winning the 50-over World Cup, Yuvraj said: “I don’t know. I feel the 50-over World Cup has a lot of history, Test cricket obviously has more history but the WTC is happening for the first time. Getting the number one spot is a big thing. But I cannot really compare winning the World Cup and WTC because I have not been part of both things.
“Virat Kohli would be in a better position or Rohit Sharma would be in a better position to explain that. I would say Virat more because he has won the World Cup. He was in the 2011 squad, and (now) he is the captain (in the WTC final). He would have a taste of both experiences, so he would be in a better position to compare those two titles,” he added.
Yuvraj also echoed head coach Ravi Shastri’s opinion, saying that World Test Championship finals should be a ‘best-of-three’ contest as both the finalists should have the chance of making a comeback if they lose the first match.
“WTC should have at least three Test matches, the other team needs to have the opportunity of coming back. What happens in a World Cup, you get one final. The World Cup is going on, every team is used to the conditions, they have played cricket and then they have reached the final. If you give a three-match championship, that gives you an even contest.
“As I said, New Zealand has an edge because they have played in England (just before the WTC final), but three-Test matches would be the ideal championship (final),” said Yuvraj.
The 39-year-old also said whether India go in with an extra seamer in their bowling attack will eventually depend on the conditions in Southampton, but he was quick to point out how the spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin have acted as the game-changers in the longest format.
“It generally depends on the conditions. If it is a seaming track, then you play an extra seamer. I feel that you need to pick your best five bowlers. Why India has been doing well in Test cricket is because Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin have been good with the bat as well…Two spinners and three pacers, you need to take 20 wickets to win the Test. In England, the ball moves around, so I feel you have to pick your best batters and best bowlers,” he added.
Talking about Shubman Gill, Yuvraj said: “Shubman is very young right now and he has just started playing for India. He had good success in Australia and not so much success in India. He is learning the art of Test cricket. There is a one-off Test against New Zealand (WTC final), and then are five Tests against England. I feel if you do well in Australia, then you need to have the belief that you can bat well in any conditions. UK conditions would be a challenge, but Shubman has everything in his armoury. He has all the shots and he has a good head on his shoulders.”
The Indian women’s team is playing a one-off Test against England, which began on Thursday. Later this year, the Mithali Raj-led side would be squaring off against Australia in a pink-ball Test and Yuvraj is excited as he feels the women’s team has some quality players.
“It is pretty exciting that our women cricketers will be playing a pink-ball Test against Australia this year. Pink ball makes cricket more exciting. Whatever cricket they get to play has to be both home and away so that you are tested in both conditions. I think women’s cricket has become really exciting, there are some power-packed players and it is great to see women’s cricket doing so well,” said Yuvraj.
Moving from cricket to the fast lane, Yuvraj will now be seen in a new avatar as the face of PUMA Motorsport in India, showcasing his passion for fast cars and sports-inspired fashion.
Talking about his love for motorsport, Yuvraj said: “I think motorsport is a fantastic category, probably a new category which the younger generation is getting fond of…I think people need to watch more of the sport because motorsport is more understandable when you are watching it on the screen…It is exciting, trending, elite, young and fashionable; and all these things matter to the people who know about motorsport.”