It was a hot and humid evening in Chennai when Yuvraj Singh walked inside the dressing room after scoring a splendid century against the West Indies in the final group stage fixture of the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
The left-hander walked in for a press conference after that match. Yuvraj, wiping off sweat from his forehead, got irritated when somebody mentioned the threat of facing the defending champions Australia in the Quarter Finals. “You can’t be the world champion without defeating the world champion…bring them on,” Yuvi said, the confidence in his voice could be felt, and in a few days’ time, Yuvraj was seen hammering the Aussie bowlers all around the park at the Motera in Ahmedabad during the high voltage quarter-final of the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
The entire country celebrated when he hit six 6s in a row against England’s Stuart Broad. We danced and partied hard when he played a cracker of an innings against Australia in the high voltage semi-final of the 2007 world Twenty-20. Yuvraj was team India’s trump card during the 2011 world cup. The Lefthander scored 362 runs and scalped 15 wickets in the tournament and was named the man of the tournament. Four years down the line, the BCCI did not include him in the list of 30 probables for the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Yet, on the day of selection, Yuvraj was the talk of the town.
What Does Yuvraj Bring Along?
Over the years, Yuvraj’s on-field persona has been a major factor contributing to India’s success. The all-rounder belongs to a rare breed of cricketers. Forget the batting displays, there’s a circle of energy that surrounds Yuvraj Singh on the field. His electrifying presence is enough to send the opposition packing. Well, this reminds me of the popular dialogue from the Bollywood film MS Dhoni: The Untold Story wherein Sushant Singh Rajput (playing MS Dhoni) says: “Pata hai hum log match kahaan haare?” after losing the final of the 1999-00 Cooch-Behar Cup. Also, his breathtaking fielding displays have been at par with those of the legendary Jhonty Rhodes.
The Yuvraj brand of cricket revolved around one basic thought i.e. fearlessness. The credit for fast-tracking Yuvraj into the national side goes to the former Indian skipper Saurav Ganguly. Yuvraj was one of the many young cricketers brought into the side in order to bolster the team after the infamous fixing scandal that rocked Indian cricket in the early 2000s.
The Indian side required some much-needed impetus to come out of the ugly shadows of the match-fixing scandal. Ganguly, along with his team comprised of young turks, had the responsibility of pulling the spectators back by reinstating the faith that had been lost. Yuvraj, with his exuberance and elegance, became an ambassador of Ganguly’s “new-age India”.
Like every other cricketer, the star all-rounder from Punjab has had quite a few ups and downs in his splendid career. Many remember him for the six 6s he hit. Others remember him for his splendid all-round performances during India’s emphatic 2011 World Cup campaign, but above anything and everything else, it is his “in the face of it” attitude that won him a lot of fans.
8701 ODI runs in 304 appearances for the national side throw ample light on the extent of impact Yuvraj had on the game. The hundreds he scored, the sixes he hit, and the catches he took are etched in the memory of almost every Indian cricket fan. Stats aside, he’d always be known for the aura he carried along, the optimism he brought into the team, and the controlled aggression he showcased on the field.
Having turned 37 on December 12 this year, the chances of the southpaw’s return to the national side seem pretty bleak. At 37, he is no longer the player he used to be, but with two world cup wins already under his belt, one can say he has done enough for the side.