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So long, champ!

As Yuvraj Singh announces his retirement from cricket, Patriot takes a look at some of his more underrated innings from his great cricket career

Amidst India’s triumphs at the World Cup, 11th June, 2019 proved to be a monumental day for Indian cricket when one of the stalwarts of the game, Yuvraj Singh announced his retirement from the international game, leaving many a cricket fan’s heart heavy.

Yuvraj’s contribution to the game has been immense. Everyone remembers him for his six sixes vs England, his man of the tournament performance in the 2011 World Cup, his comeback to cricket after cancer and so on. But here, we take a look at some of the more underrated innings of the great southpaw, which is not remembered by many, but created an impact to India’s eventual victory.

Vs West Indies (Chennai, 2011)

In this group stage game of the 2011 World Cup, India was coming up with a much better side vs the relatively weak West Indies team. But India’s main opposition came not from the team but from the insufferable heat and extremely humid weather of Chennai. Batting first, India lost Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir in the first 50 balls of the innings.

Yuvraj who came in a no. 4 accompanied Virat Kohli to slowly steady the innings, and then he came into his own hitting the ball at his will. But there was a visible discomfort that was noticed in him that day. He was constantly taking deep breaths and sitting down on the pitch in between overs to catch a breath. At one point of time, he even vomited in the middle of the ground. It looked like that it was the heat that got to him. Yet he carried on and scored a massive 113 runs, his first century in a World Cup game.

It was later revealed that he was visibly in discomfort not because of the heat, but because the pain in his lung tumour was quite unbearable. In that match, Yuvraj also chipped in with the ball and picked up 2/18 in his 4 overs, earning the Man of the Match trophy.

Vs Pakistan (Bengaluru, 2007)

When we speak of the greatness of Yuvraj Singh, we tend to speak about his exploits in the one day and T20 games, often referring to him as one of the best limited overs cricketer the world has ever seen.

However, the innings we will speak about here came in a Test match vs Pakistan.  India were reeling at 61/4 when Yuvraj stepped in the crease to accompany Sourav Ganguly. What followed was a masterclass in strokeplay when he scored 169 from 2013 balls studded with 28 fours and a six. This innings helped India reach a mammoth total of 626. But the innings was somehow overshadowed by the superlative 239 by Sourav Ganguly, who was awarded Man of the Match. But without Yuvraj’s support, India may not have been able to reach such a big total after losing four early wickets.

Vs South Africa (Hyderabad, 2005)

South Africa with their pace attack of Shaun Pollock, Andre Nel and Makhaya Ntini had run ragged over India’s top order reducing them to 35/5. Everyone expected the men in blue to bundle out for less than 150.

It is in this pressure situation that Yuvraj anchored the innings. It was not a typical Yuvraj innings studded with effortless shots and a quick paced flow of runs. He held the innings steady with Irfan Pathan, nudging the ball here and there and mostly playing in singles and doubles. Around the 37th over, Yuvraj cut loose, and started hitting the ball and coming into his own. He scored 103 runs from 122 balls with 10 fours and two sixes.

Even though South Africa went on to win the match, Yuvraj was adjudged man of the match for his heroic efforts to get India to a competitive score of 249.

Vs Pakistan (Lahore, 2006)

Batting first, Pakistan scored 288/8 in 50 overs, and coming in second India two quick wickets with just 12 runs on the board. After Sachin and Dravid somewhat started steadying the ship, the latter too fell down at a very crucial point in the match with the score reading 84/3. It is at this moment that Yuvraj walked out in the middle to accompany Sachin.

The two legends then stitched together a very important partnership of 105 to make India sit in the driver’s seat. After Sachin got out, MS Dhoni came in the middle and scored a 46 ball 72. Yuvraj ably supported the then young wicketkeeper batsman taking singles and giving him the strike.

Dhoni won the man of the match and Tendulkar got all the plaudits for his match winning 95, but without Yuvraj’s crucial 79 India would not have been able to chase down Pakistan’s massive score, and winning it with a lot of balls to spare.

All these innings prove, what a match winner the great Yuvraj Singh was. He could adapt to different situations and resort to his usual flamboyant style of play when needed. The left hander from Punjab is truly a champion. We, at Patriot, wish Yuvraj a happy retirement and salute him for all that he has done
for Indian cricket at the international stage.