The reflexes were slowing down , the spark of old was diminishing and the announcement looked imminent before it finally came to spell the end of one of the most eventful careers of Indian cricket. The high bat swing , that lefthanders elegance, the sublime timing which used to sent the balls scurrying to the fence or over it, will not sparkle in the Indian cricket horizon any more. India’s favourite cricketer Yuvraj Singh has bid adieu to international cricket and IPL and from now on will be showcasing his talent for fun in lesser stressful T20 leagues in non elite cricketing countries. A Indian career spanning 17 years of many great highs and some brutal lows including a tryst with the dreaded cancer which took the wind out of his career at its peak but could not prevent him from donning the Indian colours again albeit with lesser impact.
Yuvraj played 402 internationals accross formats – 40 Tests, 304 ODIs and 58 T20s, and ended as one of the greatest ever for India in limited overs cricket alongside Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Kohli, Rohit, Dhoni and Ganguly. Having played a steller role in India’s 1st World T20 win in South Africa ,his returns of 362 runs at 90 average and 15 wickets with 4 Man of the matches and the player of the event award in 2011 World cup win by India was the biggest high for him swiftly followed by the dreaded news of him being diagnosed with cancer. His resilience came to the fore when he made another India comeback but had only sporadic successes afterwards. A stylist southpaw , with a handy left arm spin and a brilliant fielder in covers, Yuvi will be greatly missed by cricket fans in India and the world. Here are some of the top Yuvraj Singh moments in some of his best matches across formats.
84 v Australia in champions trophy 2000 Nairobi: Yuvraj’s debut ODI match against the mighty Aussies boasting a bowling attack of McGrath, Gillespie and Brett Lee. Coming in at 90/3 , Yuvi was in vintage touch hitting 84 off 80 balls with his trademark sublime strokeplay hitting 12 fours which made the World sit up and take notice. Later his crucial runout of Bevan helped India to beat Australia by 20 runs.
69 v England at Lords Natwest Final 2002: Chasing a massive 325 , India were tottering at 146/5 with with Sehwag, Sourav, Dravid and Sachin back in the hut. Yuvraj came in and started to unfurl his range of glittering strokes on a sunbaked Lords afternoon assisted by the sprightly Mohammed Kaif , his partner in crime .After a brilliant 69 off 63 balls with 9 fours and 1 six , Yuvi was dismissed against the run of play but later Kaif (87no) ensured a memorable win for India.
50no v Pakistan World cup 2003 Centurion: The match was more remembered for Sachin’s 98 .However after Sachin’s dismissal India were 171/4 chasing 270. Yuvraj batted with Dravid and played another sublime knock of 50 notout off 53 balls to take India home without further alarms against a lethal bowling attack of Pakistan with Messrs Akram , Waqar and Shoaib in the ranks.
112 v Pakistan ,2nd Test Lahore 2003/04: Yuvraj’s 1st test hundred on the 1st day dominated by Pakistan bowling attack. A fabulous innings ,played a lone hand in a score of 287 against quality fast bowling with Umar Gul in ominous form. Though India lost that test they ultimately won the series 2-1. Yuvraj subsequently had struggles to find a permanent test spot firstly due to the presence of Dravid , Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman in middle order and later due to his own inconsistency.
139 vs Australia at Sydney ODI VB series 2004: Yuvi’s first ODI hundred. A brilliant knock against a brilliant team consisting of Brett Lee and Gillespie with lethal strokeplay studded with 16 fours and 2 sixes in 122 balls and powered India to 296 /4 .However Australia reached 225 and won by 2 wickets with one ball to spare in the highly controversial Duckworth Lewis method.
110 vs West Indies ,Indian Oil cup ,Colombo 2005: India were struggling at 51/3 when Yuvraj came down and played a superb knock of 110 to steer India out of danger ably assisted by Kaif. The match turned out to be a close one before India finally won by 7 runs.
107 notout v Pakistan Hutch cup 2006: Yuvraj had a brilliant ODI series vs Pakistan in 2006 in Hutch cup scoring 344 runs at 172 average finishing matches with big chases with scores of 82 no ,79 no and finally 107 no in final game at Karachi to take India to a 4-1 series win over Pakistan. Always enjoying great success against the arch rivals Yuvraj was all grace at Karachi as he made a big chase of 286 look ridiculously easy in yet another overseas success.
58 off 16 balls v England World T20 2007 Durban : Yuvi’s legendary innings vs England where he smote the then young and fast Stuart Broad for 6 astonishing sixes in 1 over with a great blend of timing and power to create history. His 50 came off a record 12 balls .The strokeplay was lethal and sublime in his final tally of 7 sixes and 3 fours. India beat England and moved into semis.
70 off 30 balls v Australia World T20 SF Durban 2007 : This innings was less talked about due his batting exploits vs England. But what a knock, spectacular batting at it’s best with majestic strokeplay hitting 5 fours and 5 sixes against a top quality bowling attack in a semi final powering India to 188. Aussies made a challenging effort but fell short by just 15 runs.
169 v Pakistan at Bangalore 3rd Test 2007: Certainly his most strokeful test knock on a good pitch at Bangalore. Had a massive stand with Saurav Ganguly who scored 239 and was the more passive partner when Yuvraj was batting. Yuvi was all timing and grace and this was one of his truly majestic innings full of vintage Yuvraj strokes having faced 203 balls with 28 fours and 1 six. All his 3 test 100s were against Pakistan. India nearly pulled off a win in this test and finally won the test series 1-0.
113 v West Indies ,World Cup 2011, Chennai: From a dicey 51/2 , played a steady and matured knock of 113 to take India to 268 , opening up in the later stages. The Windies messed up their chase to lose by a big margin.
50no and 5/31 v Ireland Bangalore World Cup 2011: Fine left arm spin by Yuvraj accounted for 5 Ireland wickets to restrict them to 207. However Ireland snared 4 top Indian wickets for 100 to put India in trouble but another cool and steady innings of 50 notout with only 3 fours by Yuvraj helped India to get over the line.
2/44 and 57 no v Australia World Cup QF 2011 Ahmedabad: Another top drawer performance in a crunch game.Took crucial scalps of Haddin and Clarke as Aussies reached 260 and then challenged Indians with tight bowling as the Indian top order was dismissed to leave them in some trouble at 187/5 at which point Yuvraj had a crucial stand with Raina and steered India past 260 for India to win by 5 wickets. Yuvraj finishing at 57 notout off 65 balls in another elegant matchwinning display to get the man of the match.
150 v England at Cuttack ODI 2017 : Yuvraj’s last major innings for India. An innings laced with majestic strokeplay off 127 balls with 21 fours and 3 sixes . Had a brilliant stand with MS Dhoni who scored 134. India amassed 381 and England in reply fell 25 runs short.
Yuvraj Singh scored 1900 test runs at 33.93 average with 3 100s , 8701 ODI runs at 36.56 average and 88 strike rate with 14 100s and 52 fifties and 1177 T20 runs at 28 average and 136 strike rate. He has taken 9 test wickets, 111 ODI wickets and 28 T20 wickets with his left arm spin.
Thus comes to an end of a career of a great player. An ODI legend and a great resilient character from the way he fought cancer and came out it with flying colours. Unfortunately the illness struck when he was the at the peak of his powers. He deserved to play more tests and should have excelled far more in T20 games and IPL.
Yuvraj Singh. Thank you for all the great moments and the lasting memories that you provided us . Do well in your future endeavours and take care of your health.