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Yuvraj Singh – A giant of the One-Day game

A few people in Indian cricket were as blessed and talented as Yuvraj Singh was. With his unique high backlift and gift of strokeplay, he used to collect boundaries with amazing ease.

Ritik Goel
Last updated: 12.06.2019
Yuvraj Singh announced his retirement | Sports Social Blog

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It was 19 years ago when a charismatic, young and charming 17-year-old left world-cricket surprised. With a fearless approach, gorgeous bat-swing and immense hitting ability, Yuvraj Singh was meant to achieve big landmarks.

A few people in Indian cricket were as blessed and talented as Yuvraj Singh was. With his unique high backlift and gift of strokeplay, he used to collect boundaries with amazing ease. We all know about his struggles off the field and his agonizing battle with cancer. No doubt, post-cancer phase of his career was about stubbornness and fight but the phase before that was so much about talent and success. He was a real fighter and his inclusion into the Indian one-day setup gave it a completely new dimension.

Often when we look at the greatest One-Day batsmen of all-time, we tend to look at the leading run-scorers of all time. The likes of Tendulkar, Ponting, Kallis and now Kohli are undoubtedly the greats of the ODI game but the impact of quality middle-order batsmen is sometimes underrated just because they are not in that list.


It’s not that your top-order players are not your match-winners but middle and lower order players are actually the ones who do the finishing job after the top order players have set the platform. The job of batting at 4 and 5 is far tougher. The fields are spread, the ball is softer, the bowlers have found the areas to hit and the batsmen have to keep up with the scoring rate as well. Although they don’t get to face as many deliveries as the top-3 batsmen do, their contribution is equally significant, if not more.

Talking about middle-order batsmen, MS Dhoni, perhaps, is way ahead of everyone. He has well over 9,000 ODI runs batting at positions 4 to 7. His sheer consistency has rewarded him with a better record than even some of the top-order batters. One man that really comes close to him is his partner in crime - Yuvraj Singh. With 8173 runs at positions 4-7, he will go down as one of the greatest ODI players of all time. We must remember that MS Dhoni burst onto the scene after 2004. Before him, It was Yuvraj Singh who gave India the confidence of chasing down totals or setting up big targets. He had a tremendous cricketing acumen and unparalleled hitting skills. He was one of those rare players who did not get affected by the fact whether it was an off-spinner bowling, or a leg-spinner or even a fast-bowler. He had the belief and the skill to do the job he needed to.

He scored 13 hundreds batting in the middle order and 10 of those hundreds resulted in a victory for team India. He averaged over 50 in the matches that India won. Clearly, he scored meaningful and match-winning runs. He forged a tremendous partnership with MS Dhoni as the two stalwarts have 10-century stands between them. The middle order comprising of Dhoni, Yuvraj and Raina dominated ODI cricket for a long period of time and was one of the reasons for India’s magnificent success across the globe.

He is one of the only 5 Indians to have played over 300 ODIs and therefore, was a regular member of the Indian side for over a decade. The greatness of a player is determined not only by the number of runs he has scored but also by noticing when he has scored his runs. Yuvraj Singh scored all his runs when it mattered the most. He was the man of the tournament in the Under 15 World Cup, Under 19 World cup and the 2011 World Cup. He was also India’s leading run-scorer in the 2007 World T20. He is the only player to score over 300 runs and pick 15 wickets in the same tournament and achieved this feat in the 2011 World Cup. So, his handy off-spin must not be underrated as it helped him bag 111 ODI scalps.

His fielding skills were exemplary as well. Him at backward point along with Mohammad Kaif at cover made the life of every batsman difficult. He made India realise the importance of good fielding as India was not quite a great fielding side in the 90s.

So much of India’s ODI success is credited to Yuvraj Singh and he deserves every bit of it. Not many players have fought cancer with such determination and those who have could not embrace the game again. Yuvraj Singh was a man of high spirits and he hardly gave up. His love for the game brought him back to his fans could hope of seeing him in full flow again. However, it did not quite happen. He was not the same Yuvraj Singh. He struggled in the 2014 World T20 final against Sri Lanka and was blamed for India’s defeat. He was the most expensive player in the IPL on two consecutive occasions but failed to make a mark. He was ready to grind as he came back to his best in 2017. He registered his highest ODI score of 154 and once again his partner in crime was Dhoni. It was a throwback to the good old days and the fans hoped that it would stay like this. However, it wasn’t to be as this was Yuvraj’s last good sight and he lost his place in the side pretty soon.

End of the day, it is the team that is put above the players. Yuvraj needed to move ahead and let the youngsters take over. No one has made that number 4 position his own since he has left. That really sums up the impact that he has left on the Indian set up.

He was a legend and deserves all his accolades as he was a giant of the One-Day game.

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