Yuvraj Singh, in an emotional farewell speech, announces his retirement from all the forms of cricket. With two ICC World Cups, he remains one of the biggest matchwinners in International cricket. From 2002 Natwest trophy final to smashing 6 sixes in Stuart Broad’s over and emerging as the ‘Player of the Tournament’ in 2011 World Cup, what a remarkable career it has been.
It was January 2000. India was playing Australia in the semi-final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Colombo. I was watching the game keenly, always having a great interest in taking note of talented young Indian players. Hadn’t watched any of the previous matches in the tournament. I don’t think they were aired. But since India had reached the semis, ESPN was broadcasting the game live.
On batting first, the Indian top and middle-order had begun well. They needed to finish with a flourish, though. Then came in this tall and lanky left-hander. He had a swagger about him, I remember. Within no time he began smashing the Australian bowlers with absolute nonchalance. Even the fast bowlers were being flicked beyond the boundary with disdain. I remember a couple of his sixes hit the boundary boards on the full with a loud ‘thud’ that resonated across the park.
The young man was dismissed for a coruscating 58 off 25 balls with 5 sixes and 5 fours. Courtesy his knock, India won that semi-final comfortably.
I remember thinking that day: “Wow! This kid is good. Wonder if he will play for India someday.”
Nine months later, that young man was selected in the Indian squad for the ICC KnockOut in Nairobi. I was excited. I really wanted to see that young kid bat.
That young man went on to bat for India for the first time on October 7, 2000. Incidentally, against world champions Australia. On Durga Puja in Kolkata at the time and I sat glued to the television set as India batted first.
After an aggressive start by Sachin, India lost a bunch of wickets and was struggling at 130-4 in the 25th over. That young man, all of 18 years of age, then took guard. There was not an ounce of fear or anxiety on his face. He slashed his blade confidently to the likes of Glen McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie. The fours flowed effortlessly from his bat and he ran like a hare between the wickets. When he was dismissed he had made an attractive 84 off 80 balls with 12 fours. It was as impressive a debut as I had ever seen from an Indian. His bat swing, especially, had me in awe.
Later that evening, that young man took an excellent diving catch and affected a terrific run-out – both from the cover region – that helped India register a famous win. He rightly adjudged the Man-of-the Match.
I was thrilled for India’s victory and excited at the prospect of the country getting such a young and impactful batsman and a brilliant fielder in its ranks. As the twinkling lights for the Durga Puja took full affect outside my balcony that night, I thought happily that India had perhaps found a new match-winner and a star player.
I was right, as it turned out.
Time has flown by. And yet that October 2000 evening still feels like yesterday…
There are are too many of his dazzling and stellar efforts to list here. Most of them are well-known, anyway. But I will remember that loud ‘thud’ of the ball hitting the boundary boards clearly in that U-19 game…And the excitement I felt…That thrill…Of a young, swashbuckling and fearless Indian batsman. Ready to take on the world.
Thanks Yuvraj Singh
for all the fond memories. You were the answer to what India was missing in the 90s – a clutch middle order batter (credit to Robin Singh who tried to play the role and sometimes Ajay Jadeja) who could turn up the heat in games that mattered. There was a time in mid 2000s with Yuvi and Dhoni where no chase seemed impossible. 2011 CWC victory would not have been even remotely possible without you – and that while you were suffering so much.
Every player goes through bad patches and bad games. Many (recent watchers) people blame Yuvi for the ’14 loss and the blame is legit. But that does not take away the many games the man won for us. Everyone has cost their team games due to being out of touch and unable to get off the blocks. Momentum breaking 1(13) from Kohli in CWC15 SF.. Dhoni innings in England last year.. Warner’s in the last game.. Ganguly ’99 WC vs RSA comes to mind. I think there is less of bad intent and more of just struggling to put bat on ball or find the gaps.
But that aside.. The Nairobi blitz.. 6*6.. Test centuries vs Pak.. 70(30) vs Brett Lee.. 2011 WC as a whole.. many others that I am surely missing.
Enjoy the retirement Champ! Yuvraj Singh!
6️⃣ 6️⃣ 6️⃣ 6️⃣ 6️⃣ 6️⃣
Wishing Yuvraj Singh a happy retirement from international cricket ✊ pic.twitter.com/Te0duzjlA0
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