Yuvraj Singh was Indian cricket’s first superstar who made his debut in 2000s
Best white ball player, Yuvraj Singh bids adieu leaving a lot of cherishable cricketing memories.
Updated - Jan 28, 2020 6:33 pm
Ace Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh decided to quit international cricket on Monday, June 10. The decision came just a day after India beat Australia by 36 runs in the cricket World Cup at the Oval. There is a sort of link between Yuvraj and an India-Australia clash at the World Cup for he was the one who had bagged the man of the match award last time India defeated the Kangaroos in the showpiece event in the quarter-final of the 2011 edition. Yuvraj finished as the player of the series of that World Cup and it was the peak of his illustrious career.
The fans would have loved to see Yuvraj bowing out playing a farewell game but he didn’t have one. Yuvraj’s last appearance for India was in June 2017 and an ordinary show against the West Indies did not see him reclaiming his position in the team again. This year, he just about made the Indian Premier League but didn’t get to play many games. Finally, the man — one of the modern greats of the game — has decided to hang up his boots.
How will history judge Yuvraj Singh, the batsman?
Yuvraj Singh, when he started playing for India, was a fresh product of the 21st century. He made his India debut in October 2000 in Nairobi where India had gone to play the ICC KnockOut Trophy. It was a time when Sourav Ganguly’s leadership had started building a new team. The old blood was no more in the scene and India were anyway looking to rebuild their side in the post-match fixing scandal days.
The team had a nucleus of experienced players in Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble while there were newcomers in Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and VVS Laxman. Zaheer Khan was another bright prospect who had also made his debut in the same match (against Kenya) with Yuvraj and the two went a long distance to serve Indian cricket.
Among the new faces that Ganguly’s team had discovered and who went on to become strong pillars of the Indian team in the years to come, Yuvraj was one. The Indian middle-order did not have too many left-handed batsmen since the exit of Vinod Kambli and the promotion of Ganguly to the opening slot. There were the likes of Hemang Badani, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Amay Khurasiya for some time but none of them really had the commanding authority to cement a permanent place in the playing XI. But with the advent of Yuvraj Singh, that story was to change.
A fearless cricketer
Yuvraj Singh’s biggest quality was that he was fearless when it came to his game. Given his talent to hit even the good ball effortlessly, the Punjab batsman was comparable to the young Tendulkar who could score as briskly in the middle order in his early years. Yuvraj was not one who slogged and like Virat Kohli today, had the god-gifted talent of knowing how to control games from his end. The man certainly was not as consistent as Kohli but the machismo that had come with his batting is something that even Kohli can’t match.
One of Yuvraj’s biggest quality was his near flawless hand-eye coordination. If Virender Sehwag was India’s man who could negate the opponents’ bowling with his extremely gifted hand-eye unison, Yuvraj was almost a mirror image of the man down the order. However, Sehwag had gone on to scale the heights in the longer format which Yuvraj couldn’t. That was perhaps more because the Indian middle-order had more classical bats to picks from instead of somebody like Yuvraj who was more of an attacker.
Yuvraj had a weak defence but his offence was far too good to eclipse that
Yuvraj Singh was perhaps India’s first superstar who made his debut in the 21st century and had gone on set up a grand example of how talent can grow even in a carefree manner. The man certainly had his drawbacks. For instance, Yuvraj had a weaker defence compared to some of his contemporaries that stopped him from tasting equal success in the red-ball arena. But the man’s capacity to impact limited-over cricket with the bat and also with the ball (as he did in the 2011 World Cup) made him a cricketer who clearly had no alternative.
Yuvraj was also an asset for his captain because of his gravity-defying fielding. In the post-Jonty Rhodes years, it was Yuvraj who was clearly the best of the lot in terms of fielding in the gully region. If he had the gift of scoring runs fast even when fielding restrictions were on, he also had the capacity to take catches or effecting runouts to turn matches. Yuvraj Singh was a complete package meant to deliver in limited-over cricket.
The likes of Yuvraj Singh confirmed India’s coming of age as a superpower in limited-over cricket. Prior to their advent when India were more about Tendulkar and the rest, Yuvraj and his ilk created a different identity of the batting order outside the shadow of the towering Tendulkar. It was there where the greatness of the likes of Yuvraj lies and the tradition was carried forward by the Kohlis and Rohit Sharmas.
However, amid everything else, Yuvraj Singh remains an eternal symbol of youth in Indian cricket.