Yuvraj Singh, one of the finest one-day international batsmen of his generation, has bid adieu to cricket after a successful career that saw him amass over 400 international caps across all three formats of the game.
Singh made his ODI debut against Kenya in October 2000 and went on to play 304 fifty-over games for India. His finest hour in the format came in the 2011 World Cup at home when he played a pivotal role in helping India secure their second world title.
Singh, a left-handed hard-hitter who could roll his left-arm over for some productive spells, excelled as an all-rounder in 2011 to help India end their 28-year wait for a World Cup. He amassed 362 runs at a staggering average of 90.50 and took 15 wickets in his nine games to set up the team on their way to glory.
To put his performance in perspective, he finished in the top eight of both the highest run-scorers as well as wicket-takers at the tournament.
The 37-year-old first came to the fore when helped India successfully chase England’s challenging 326-run target in the NatWest Series final at Lord’s in July 2002. Coming in at number 6 with the team in a perilous situation, he stitched together 121 runs with fellow youngster Mohammad Kaif for the sixth wicket to guide India to an improbable win.
The win prompted one of the most famous scenes in Indian cricket — a bare-chested Sourav Ganguly waving his shirt over the revered Lord’s balcony.
At a time when Indian fielding would ensure some extra runs to the opposition total, Singh’s work at backward point made the Indian fans warm up to the prospect of watching one of their own dive this way and that, saving crucial runs.
The hard-hitter also played a starring role in helping India win the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. In the match against England, Singh smashed Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over to make the match a part of the cricketing folklore. He went on to score 50 runs off just 12 deliveries, a joint world-record for the format.
With all the highs, came a few lows as well. Singh was scapegoated for India’s finals defeat at the 2014 T20 World Cup. He could only score 11 runs off 21 balls in the summit clash against Sri Lanka as the team set up a paltry 131-run target. The Islanders chased the total with ease, and Singh had to endure a barrage of abuse from the India supporters. The abuse became extremely personal and put him in danger as fans attacked his home in Chandigarh.
He also battled cancer in 2011 and made a successful return to cricket.
With Singh hanging his bat, one of the finest cricketing careers has come to a close.
First Published: IST