There isn’t anyone better at hitting the ball cleanly as Yuvraj Singh. When on song, he is a treat to watch, not for the bowlers though. He started playing cricket because his father Yograj Singh forced him to. Yuvraj had a gold medal in skating which he threw out and asked him to play cricket. The major shift came at the age of 15, he carried kitbags in crowded local trains, living away from his parents and a luxurious life in Punjab. At 18 he was shredding a strong Australian attack in only his second ODI, in the Champions Trophy in 2000.
Yuvraj Singh was then considered one of the most talented batsman India had. He progressed under the captaincy of Sourav Ganguly and hence had an attacking mindset from the beginning. As he gained experience, he became more and more vital for India’s success. He was the key behind India conquering the world in the T20 format in 2007, where he also hit Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over, and in the ODI format in 2011.
The World Cup win in 2011 was the biggest moment of his cricketing career- 362 runs, 15 wickets, 4 Man-of-the-Match awards, and the Player of the Tournament and took India over the line. But soon after that came the biggest challenge of his life, when he was diagnosed of cancer which required a two and a half month treatment in USA. He came back in April 2012 after completion of his chemotherapy and when nobody thought that he could ever play cricket again, got selected for the World T20 in August. But due to lack of consistency, he was ousted from the team.
Now though, the 35 year old veteran is ready to start the second innings of his career. Since his comeback this year against England, he has looked fluent, cementing his place in the squad for the ICC Champions Trophy by smashing 150 runs against England this year in the ODIs. His 150 was his first century in almost 6 years. India was reeling at 25 for 3 when he joined his partner on the crease and took India in a commanding position. His knock consisted of 21 fours and 4 sixes. The great thing was the way he was pulling the pacers, which implied that he was in form. He scored 210 runs from the three matches averaging 70.
The upcoming IPL edition is extremely important for Yuvraj Singh as he looks to clear doubts in the selectors’ minds if there are any about cementing his place in the squad for the Champion’s Trophy. He is a key player for the Sunrisers Hyderabad team and will look to make amends. Yuvraj has 2336 runs from 108 matches in the Indian Premier League at an average of 25.39 and a good strike rate of 130.14. A key aspect would be his slow left arm off spinners which would determine if he plays in the Indian team as an all rounder or purely as a batsman. He has 35 wickets at an average of 29.49 and an economy of 7.33.
However, Yuvraj is a slow starter and struggles initially against spinners, specifically those who take the ball away from him. If he can rectify that and can improve on his pull shots, he is unstoppable. Hopefully, he will carry his new found form into IPL and take his team as far as he can.