It was a bitter-sweet moment for Yuvraj Walmiki when he was told that he will be flying to the The Hague, Netherlands to join India's hockey squad for the World Cup scheduled to begin from Saturday.
Sweet, because he was initially left out of the squad but will now have a chance to live his dream of playing for India in a World Cup game. Bitter, because it came at the expense of his good friend Nikkin Thimmaiah.
Thimmaiah sustained a hamstring pull on the right side during training, with doctors advising him complete bed rest for four weeks, thus ruling him out of the mega event.
Yuvraj has been named his replacement, and he will depart from Mumbai on Tuesday night.
It is the second major injury setback for the Indian team even before the tournament has started, after striker Ramandeep Singh was also ruled out a couple of days back.
Yuvraj said he can't wait to prove his worth, now that he's got a chance.
"I'm really sad for Nikkin and this is not how I wanted things to happen," Yuvraj said on Tuesday. "But I'm happy that I'll finally get to live my dream of taking part in a World Cup for my country. It's the biggest occasion in the sport. I was mentally prepared for this, and I'm ready for the challenge."
The 23-year-old forward from Mumbai was named as one of the standbys after failing to make the cut in the final squad chosen among the 33 core probables.
"I was a little disappointed to miss the bus, but I told myself that matters of selection are not in my hands. I went back to New Delhi to join the camp, continued my training and worked double as hard keeping the Commonwealth Games in mind. But I'm glad I got a chance now itself," he said.
Yuvraj was part of the squad that went for a preparatory tour to Europe recently, so adjusting to the conditions shouldn't be a big issue for the Mumbaikar who will be playing for the first time in a World Cup.
"Yes, it won't be that difficult for me to adjust to the conditions. But World Cup is a different ball game altogether. No game can be taken lightly," he said.
It remains to be seen if Yuvraj manages to make the cut in the playing XI, but he is waiting for that one opportunity.
"Whatever chance I get, I want to score goals or create penalty corners for the team. I want my name to be there on the scoresheet," he said.
Asked how his family reacted to the news, Yuvraj said, "It was their dream to see me playing in a World Cup as well. So they're extremely happy. They told me that I've been given a chance, and I shouldn't waste it."