Yuvi turns the clock back

Yuvi turns the clock back

Yuvi turns the clock back

When Yuvraj Singh walked into bat at the fall of Rohit Sharma’s wicket against Pakistan on Sunday, the stage was tailor-made for one of the superstars of Indian cricket. Fans screaming ‘Yuvi, Yuvi,’ India looking to gain the ascendency and the opponents striving hard to stage a comeback, it was a scene reminiscent of the past decade.

And just like how he had often destroyed the rivals with great panache, the 35-year-old Punjabi turned the clock back, pulverising the Pakistan bowlers with some brutal batting. He unleashed a straight-bat punch for four off the fourth delivery he faced before facing a heart-in-the-mouth moment four balls later when he miscued a shot against Shadab Khan. Luckily, Hasan Ali put down a sitter and Yuvraj, on a comeback trail, wasn't going to let go of this chance in such a big match.

Pre-meditating what the Pakistan bowlers were going to hurl at him, Yuvraj just sat back at the crease and dictated the terms. He very well knew they were going to test him with the short stuff early on and he just hooked and pulled most of them with utter disdain. And when the ball was pitched up, the drives kept coming, as skipper Virat Kohli — a self-confessed fan of Yuvraj — enjoyed the mayhem like the fans who had packed Edgbaston to the rafters.

“The way he batted was the way only he can strike the ball, hitting low full tosses for fours and sixes, and even digging out yorkers for fours was outstanding,” Kohli said of the 32-ball 53-run knock. “I think that really deflated the opposition and that gave me a bit of time to settle in from the other end. When he got out, I took over. But I think his innings was a difference in the game. I think Yuvi’s striking was something that was outstanding to see.”

The biggest quality about Yuvraj is his never-say-die attitude, something that has become a significant feature of this Indian team across all formats as well. Be it cancer or being dropped from the Indian team in 2013 or even faltering in the 2014 World T20, Yuvraj has somehow managed to rise every time an epitaph is penned about him. Even when he was recalled for the limited overs series against England earlier this year, he received mixed reaction with the majority feeling a youngster should have been groomed keeping in mind the 2019 World Cup.

Aware the series against England could have probably been his last chance, Yuvraj showed the hunger and passion to wear the national colours was still burning bright with a career-best 150 in the second ODI at Cuttack as India posted a memorable comeback win. That pretty much sealed his ticket to England and the veteran, enjoying the confidence of his skipper and management, is relishing a new high in the twilight of his career.

“He's done it in India and now he's continuing it in England,” said Kohli of Yuvraj. “If he plays like that, you know, the team is always in a good space because you can really rely on him to come in and just play a match-winning innings, more often than not. And he’s ended up doing it three out of five times. That's why we back him at that spot. The way Yuvi has come back, his performance in last series and now taking the initiative in this game, it's been beautiful to see and I wish him all the best.”

Despite his heroics, there are some concerns about Yuvraj, like his fielding. Unlike in his pomp where he used to prowl the cover region, he is allocated a place where he wouldn’t be tested often. His running between the wickets also isn't as fast as fellow veteran M S Dhoni. But he brings about confidence and plenty of experience that is vital for success in such an important tournament.