Can Yuvraj Singh Make Another Comeback?

Published 12/12/2014, 6:08 AM EST
Yuvraj Singh


The October of 2000 marked the arrival of a new star.In the ICC Knockout Trophy (now called ICC Champions Trophy), a new Indian player had arrived on the scene. He used to bat left handed, bowl left arm spin and he was a lightening quick fielder. Only 18, this  young player hit 84 off 80 balls against a pace attack consisting of stalwarts such as Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie leading India to victory over the Aussies in the quarter-final. In the semis, he scored a 41 and took 1/15 against South Africa. He was picked for the One-day side after some great performances in the U-19 World Cup which India won, under the captaincy of Mohammed Kaif. The tournament also saw this budding cricketer win the prestigious “Man of the Tournament” award.

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No points for guessing who this player is. Yes, it is indeed our very own lion-hearted Yuvraj Singh.

Whether it was the Natwest final of 2002 in Lords, or smashing Stuart Broad for 6 sixes in an over in Durban, or the demolition of the Aussies in the semi-final of 2007 T20 Worldcup, or even the all-rounder who was the backbone of 2011 World Cup winning team, Yuvraj Singh holds a special place in our hearts. For us, he is the man who defeated cancer and was successful in playing for the country once again. He is the fighter we all aspire to be.

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In his prime, he was the player who could hit the ball far and long effortlessly and with great timing. The flicks and drives to the faster bowlers, and the slog-sweep & the late-cuts through backward point of spinners were signs of Yuvraj being in sublime touch. On his day, Yuvi  could play all the shots in the book with a unique grace. Pulling fast bowlers off the front foot and charging down the track at the sight of spinners gave the opposition a lot to think about.

Seeing Yuvraj hit those mighty sixes with such aplomb is every fan’s delight,however seeing him struggle to get bat to ball,like for instance in the T20 Worldcup 2014,is a sight,no one ever wants to see again.

Since his debut in 2000, Yuvraj had became a very important middle order batsman for India. While during Ganguly’s tenure as captain, he would come at 5-6 to finish off the innings, under Dravid’s captaincy he was given the chance to bat higher up the order,giving him chance to shine brighter. Batting at no.4, Yuvraj got a lot more overs and thus a chance to score more centuries.

While Yuvraj had become a permanent member of the Indian team by 2005, he failed to break into the test team because of the fabulous four of Indian Cricket. Yuvraj made his test debut 3 years later in Mohali against New Zealand. In the same year(2003), Yuvraj became the second Indian Cricketer to represent Yorkshire in County Cricket. On the tour of Pakistan in 2003-04, Yuvraj scored his maiden test ton(112) in Lahore in the second test. Before this tour, Yuvraj scored a splendid 139 in SCG against Australia in the tri-series featuring Zimbabwe .

Despite the dip in form, Yuvraj was a permanent member of the Indian ODI squad and scored the odd big innings, but was dropped from tests. He scored his second test ton against Pakistan in Karachi in 2006.In the ODI series on that very tour, he was the man of the series on account of being the leading run scorer for India. In that very year, he had a great home series against England and was the Man of the match in the 3 and 4 one-dayers of the series.

In 2007, came the golden phase of Yuvraj’s career. His innings against both England and Australia are still remembered by Indian cricket fans all over the world. He was the named the vice-captain under Dhoni’s captaincy in 2007. Yuvraj’s good form continued against both Pakistan and Australia at home. He also hit his highest score (169) in tests when he was included in the 3 test against Pakistan in Bangalore as a replacement for Sachin Tendulkar.

In 2008, Yuvraj scored the second fastest century by an Indian in Rajkot against England, and then went on to play an innings of 85 not out in the famous Chennai test, played after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.

It was in 2010, that the decline in Yuvraj’s career started. Yuvraj was dropped for the Asia Cup after the team’s poor show in World T20. Lack of fitness and disciplinary issues were cited as the reason for him facing the axe. Returning for a test series against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka after Sourav Ganguly had retired; Yuvraj hit a fifty in the first test at Galle. But he couldn’t play the second test as he was down with Malaria, and Suresh Raina who replaced him, scored a hundred on his debut. With Cheteshwar Pujara also scoring a truckload of runs in domestic cricket and Raina doing well in Sri Lanka, Yuvraj was dropped for the two test series against Australia in 2010.

Despite not being in great form over the past year, Yuvraj was a part of India’s World Cup Squad and became the star with 362 runs and 15 wickets in the tournament, thus winning the man of the tournament award. The scenes of Yuvraj going down on his knees after taking India over the line against Australia are still fresh in people’s minds.

Months after the World Cup it was revealed that he had an abnormal lung tumour and played with it throughout the World Cup. The nation was distraught and prayed for Yuvraj’s speedy recovery. However, Yuvraj Singh being a fighter,resuscitated back,and was seen playing in New Zealand in a T20 International. He was selected for the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka and also won the man of the match award against South Africa.

But since his recovery , he has been regularly dropped time and again, only to make a comeback. He was selected for the home series against England, but after India lost2-1, after the third test, he was dropped along with Zaheer and Harbhajan. He also didn’t make it to the Champions Trophy in England. Following a fitness programme in France and performances in the domestic circuit, Yuvraj returned to the team for T20s and ODI’s against Australia. Yuvraj played a match winning innings in the T20 but had a poor one-day series. Failure in the following series against West Indies(at home) and South Africa (away) led to his exclusion from the team for the New Zealand tour.

Yuvraj again returned to the team for the World T20 in Bangladesh and played a 43-ball 60 against Australia showing glimpses of his class. But what followed was an absolute nightmare, in the final of the World Cup,when  Yuvraj failed to get any momentum for the team by failing to hit boundaries as well as give the strike to Kohli. He was cited as the reason for India’s defeat in final,causing fans to pelt stones at his house.

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At 33, Yuvraj’s best years are definitely behind him.However,to say that his career is obliterated is probably an overstatement.Being dropped from the Worldcup probables list,may have come as a shocker to most,but not without reason. The road ahead for Yuvraj is tough, but not impossible. The man defeated cancer, this is just bad form.

Does Yuvraj have it in him to make a comeback again and place himself among the greats of One-day game?

Only time will tell.

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Gurkirat Singh Gill

168 articles

A sports enthusiast since 2003 with my first experience of connecting with sports being the Cricket World Cup 2003. Studying Engineering in Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, University of Delhi, but pretty sure will not become an Engineer.

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