by Sudipta Biswas

One of India’s greatest white ball cricketers Yuvraj Singh finally took a call on his career. The southpaw will forever occupy a special place in the heart of Indian cricket fans because of his exploits and firepower abilities in the big ticket tournaments.

The Punjab cricketer will always be remembered for his huge role in India’s 2007 World T20 and in the 2011 World Cup triumph, in which he vomited blood and played the tournament with a rare germ cell cancer in his lung.  He might have known what was coming next after the heartwarming moment of World Cup victory, but he didn’t let the disease to affect his passion for the game.

When the entire nation was busy in celebrating India’s World Cup victory after 28 years, Yuvraj left for the US to cure his cancer. His larger than life role in the World Cup and then his battle with cancer made him an immortal hero of Indian cricket.

A player of marquee tournaments

If India’s 1983 World Cup victory is known for Kapil Dev’s heroics, the 2011 World Cup gave India an all-rounder in the form of Yuvraj Singh who scored 362 runs and scalped 15 wickets to bring the curtain down on India’s long wait for the yellow metal.

Unlike other renowned Indian batsmen, Yuvraj doesn’t have outstanding batting average under his belt, but his ability to soak the pressure and rise up on the big occasions made his impact felt in the game. Hence, it will be an injustice to Yuvraj if his career seen through the prism of facts and statistics.

The lanky batsman always addressed the pressure situation in his own style, playing elegant shots that were enough to create fear in batsmen’s mind.

In his batting debut, he tore apart famous Australian bowling attack at Kenya’s Nairobi playing 84 runs knock off 80 balls, the first glimpse of his finishing credential. Then he thumped his authority in the ODI cricket slamming 69 off 63 balls in the NatWest Trophy final against England at the Lord’s that saw India becoming the first team to chase down 300 plus target (read 326), a record total at the early stage of the 2000s.

Then he blasted six sixes off young Stuart Broad in a must-win game in the inaugural WT20 in Durban, becoming the only second left-handed batsman after Gary Sobers to achieve the feat in competitive cricket. In international cricket, he was the only second batsman after Herschelle Gibbs to emulate the feat.

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Once again, he defeated the odd of pressure in the quarter-final of 2011 against Australia smashing a half-century at Ahmedabad, when the going was the toughest.

In 2007, Yuvraj changed the perception regarding the sport. His six sixes against young Broad made it clear that the batsmen are getting mightier than bowlers. His performance in the 2007 WT20 fetched him an ‘iconic player’ status in the IPL, but he never managed to emulate the success he enjoyed for India in the T20 league.

Yuvraj’s inability to play at the slow track made him vulnerable against slow pacers and spinners which never let his Test career to take off. When he played 300 ODIs and he managed to earn only 40 Test caps.

From the highs to lows

When Yuvraj made a return to the Indian team after recovering from cancer, he was never in his prolific best, neither as a batsman nor as a fielder. The worst he might have come in the 2014 WT20 final on a slow Mirpur track, his 11 off 21 balls at a crucial juncture of the game termed as the biggest reason of India’s defeat against Sri Lanka.

He played a few stunning knocks-both in ODIs and T20Is after making a return to the Indian team, but his fitness standards had dropped, as a result, the 2017 Champions was his last association with Team India.

Highs and lows are part of cricketer and every cricketer has flaws. But what made Yuvraj great is that he succeeded in the game defying those flaws.

Yuvraj might not have played 100 Tests for India, but his contribution to Indian cricket in the limited overs cricket certainly made him one of the legends of the game. When it comes to white ball cricket, his name will always appear in the front row along with Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, and Sourav Ganguly.

 


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