12.06.2019 Author: C.NAMASIVAYAMYuvraj Singh, one of Team India’s greatest white-ball cricketer of his generation, has announced his retirement from International cricket and IPL. His announcement has put an abrupt end to his distinguished career and the end of an era.
Yuvraj Singh first came into prominence in the under-19 World Cup played in Sri Lanka in 2000. The Indian team led by Mohammad Kaif beat Sri Lanka in the finals to lift the Under- 19 trophy for the first time. For his all-around performance, Yuvraj was the “Player of the Tournament”.
Yuvraj’s stupendous show in the Under- 19 World Cup earned him a place in the Indian team. At the tender age of 18, Yuvraj made his ODI debut for India against Kenya in the ICC Knock out Trophy held in Nairobi. Though he didn’t get an opportunity to bat, Yuvraj bowled 4 tight overs in his first match and gave away 16 runs.
Yuvraj showed his class in his second ODI when he scored a brilliant 84 off 80 balls against an Australian attack comprising of Glenn Mcgrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie. He followed it up with a 41 off 35 balls against South Africa in his third ODI and thereby launched his illustrious career.
Though Yuvraj had been fairly consistent and a match-winner in the initial stages of his career, his first ODI hundred came only in his 71st ODI match against Bangladesh in 2003. But before that Yuvraj scored a match-winning 69 against England in the finals of the Natwest series and along with his under-19 Captain Mohammad Kaif took India to a remarkable win.
Yuvraj Singh’s first greatest momentYuvraj Singh’s first greatest moment in white- ball cricket came in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 in South Africa. He made his T20I debut for India in that tournament and was passive in his first 3 matches. Then came the match against England and the carnage of Stuart Broad.
In this match, Yuvraj walked into bat in the 17th over of the Indian innings. In fact, only 20 deliveries were left in the innings when Yuvraj took guard. He got going with a couple of fours off the bowling of Andrew Flintoff in the 18th over. That must have angered Flintoff which prompted a confrontation with Yuvraj at the end of that over.
What one witnessed after that was a bit of a history which would forever be etched in the memory of every Indian fan. After his altercation with Flintoff, Yuvraj was pumped up as he deposited all the six deliveries of Stuart Broad’s next over into the crowd. Broad turned into a deer in the headlights as he watched all his six deliveries disappear into orbit. Yuvraj scored the fastest T20 fifty off 12 balls and became the only player in the World to hit six sixes in an over in T20I.
In the semi-finals against Australia, Yuvraj Singh clobbered 70 off 30 balls. He was instrumental in India lifting the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 tournament in South Africa. Yuvraj was named the Player of the tournament.
Yuvraj Singh’s second greatest momentYuvraj Singh’s second greatest moment came in the ICC World Cup in 2011 at home. When India started its World Cup campaign in 2011, there was a bit of an issue with the fifth bowling option. But unlike the current Indian team, India had plenty of part-time options in the form of Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina and, Virender Sehwag.
As the tournament progressed, Yuvraj became India’s prime bowler having bowled 75 overs in 9 matches. He was the leading wicket-taker for India in that tournament with 15 wickets. In the match against Ireland at Bengaluru, Yuvraj Singh became the first player to make 50 and take 5 wickets in the same match in the World Cup.
In batting, Yuvraj aggregated 362 runs in 8 innings at an average of 90. Though he scored a century against the West Indies, his best innings in that World Cup came in the quarterfinals against Australia at Ahmedabad.
In that match, when the Indian Captain MS Dhoni got out, India needed 74 off 75 balls with 5 wickets in hand. Fortunately for India, they had a quality batsman like Suresh Raina at No 7. At the other end, the in-form Yuvraj was on 25. It was a sudden death situation for both the teams. One more wicket at that stage could have put an end to Team India’s World Cup campaign.
But Yuvraj and Raina rose to the occasion. They took on the fast bowling pair of Brett Lee and Shaun Tait to take India to a remarkable win and a place in the semi-finals. Though Yuvraj failed with the bat in the semi-finals against Pakistan, he got rid of Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan to derail Pakistan’s chase. Fittingly enough, Yuvraj was at the non-striker's end when Dhoni deposited Nuwan Kulasekara into the Arabian sea to mark India’s triumph in World Cup 2011.
Yuvraj Singh was named the Player of the tournament and he was quick to dedicate India’s World Cup win to his idol Sachin Tendulkar. From the highs of World Cup triumph, Yuvraj was diagnosed with rare germ cancer immediately after the World Cup. In fact, he was battling through cancer while giving his best to his nation in the World Cup.
Fortunately for Yuvraj and for the cricket fraternity, he showed tremendous fighting spirit and recovered quickly from his ailment and was back in the team within a couple of years. But he was not the same Yuvraj thereafter as he was battling for fitness which affected his fielding efforts as well. But Yuvraj’s cricket career and personal life would be a lesson to one and all in putting up a brave face in adversity and turmoil and come up trumps in the end.
For a part-time bowler, Yuvraj’s tally of 111 wickets in ODIs at an economy of 5.10 was exceptional. His best all-around effort in an ODI came against England at Indore in 2008. After smashing 118 with the bat, Yuvraj exhibited his prowess with the ball claiming 4 wickets. His rivalry with Kevin Pieterson was legendary when Yuvraj got the master batsman out five times with his P.. chuckers.
incredible success in white-ball cricketAs against his incredible success in white-ball cricket, Yuvraj did not do enough justice to his talent in Test matches, but he had his moments. Though he had 3 hundred in Test matches, his best innings came against England at Chennai in 2008 when he scored 85 not out in the second innings.
Chasing a fourth innings target of 387 on a deteriorating wicket, Yuvraj added 163 runs for the fifth wicket with Sachin Tendulkar to complete the highest successful run-chase in the fourth innings on India soil. The constant presence of the fab- four in the Indian middle-order ensured that Yuvraj never got an extended run in Test matches.
Right through his sporting career, Yuvraj had always been a team player who never aspired for personal glory and leadership. He was always comfortable playing under any captain though at one point of time he had revealed that Dhoni was his favorite captain. He was a team man to the core.
He was a terrific fielder in his heydays, a real match-winner and, a genuine finisher. He has been an inspiration to all young aspiring sportsmen. Yuvraj’s positive contribution to Indian cricket has been immense. He has given the Indian fans a lot of exciting moments to cherish.
On retirement, Yuvraj Singh will have two regrets since he has not performed to his potential in Test matches and in IPL. But he has prescribed plenty of delight to all Indian cricket fans to last a lifetime. Thanks, Yuvraj for all those awesome memories.