Posts Tagged ‘yuvraj’
Yuvraj Singh – a winner on and off the pitch
This weekend sees the return to cricket of Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh as India take on New Zealand in two Twenty20 Internationals ahead of the ICC World T20. The first game is in Visakhapatnam on 8th September and the second is in Chennai on 11th September.
Nothing remarkable about that, you might think as players recover from injury and return every day. However, not many do what Yuvraj has done, which is to fight, and beat, cancer, then make his way back to international cricket. It is a story that has echoes in what Lance Armstrong was able to achieve, although Yuvraj has still to write his final on-field chapters.
He was diagnosed with a lung tumour last year – not long after the World Cup final, in fact – and subsequently underwent treatment in America before finally being given the all-clear in March.
Words hardly do justice to the magnitude of what he has undergone and what he will achieve, simply by turning up to the ground along with his team-mates ready to don the blue shirt once again.
He is arguably best known for hitting Stuart Broad for six sixes in one over in 2007 and winning the World Cup last year, but he has had to face up to something far more deadly than a fast bowler or a batsman trying to hit him out of the park.
His illness, and the humility he showed during each phase of it, gave sports fans around the world a sense of perspective. Yes, winning World Cups and blasting the ball hundreds of metres is great, but at the end of the day, there are more pressing things to worry about.
He was cheered royally when he attended a Pune Warriors game in this year’s Indian Premier League and he will doubtless receive a rapturous ovation the next time he walks out to bat. More than perhaps any other cricketer, he deserves it.
Already, cricketers have offered their congratulations to this remarkable competitor:
@yuvstrong12 Hey buddy, good luck tomorrow re being back on the field, very proud of you & your determination..Well done champion…
— Shane Warne (@warne888) September 7, 2012
— Kevin Pietersen (@kevinpp24) September 6, 2012
By the time England slumped to a galling 5-0 defeat to India as they lost the final One-Day International in Kolkata by 95 runs, a sense of inevitability had been lingering for much of the tour.
Nobody was particularly surprised when they lost, or that they failed to bat through 50 overs for the fourth time in five games. Missing star players Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, they looked nothing like the team that looked so good when beating India 3-0 on home soil all of two months ago.
England’s record in India is abysmal and they have long struggled to deal with conditions in the subcontinent but what might the management have learned from this series and are big changes required ahead of the series against Pakistan?
Undoubtedly the return of those four players will boost England but is a change of strategy required, as has been mooted by former captain Michael Vaughan, or should England just accept that in this series, they were outplayed by the world champions who showed that while their strength in depth in Test cricket is somewhat lacking, in ODIs, their bench strength is unparalleled.
For India, there was no Sehwag, no Tendulkar, no Yuvraj, no Harbhajan Singh, no Zaheer Khan yet no real problem with defeating England.
India answered a lot of searching questions during the course of their five-wicket win over Australia in their World Cup quarter-final in Ahmedabad. The majority of the 42,000 fans in the stadium went away happy with what they had seen and for the first time in 15 years, an Australian captain will not be lifting the World Cup trophy.
Going into the match, many questioned India’s temperament – did they have what it takes to beat Australia in a match that really mattered in the latter stages of a competition? They proved they did thanks to an outstanding bowling, fielding and batting display.
Led by Yuvraj Singh’s unbeaten 57 and brace of wickets, the only blemish was the mix-up which saw Gautam Gambhir run out; but Yuvraj made sure that he was there at the end to see the game through.
We also questioned whether India’s batsmen could cope with the extreme pace offered by Australia’s bowling attack – Shaun Tait, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson – but they dealt with the challenge admirably. And Sachin Tendulkar shone through once again, his half-century taking him past the mark of 18,000 One-Day International runs. It is surely inconceivable that anyone will ever score that many again.
A word for Ricky Ponting, who came into the game in no sort of form and under intense pressure – not something he has become unused to following the recent dip in his side’s performances – only to produce a fine century.
Although he was able to deliver when his country needed it most, few of his colleagues, with the honourable exceptions of Brad Haddin and David Hussey, were also able to weigh in, resulting in Australia setting India a target that they always knew, provided they didn’t lose wickets in the way they have been throughout the tournament, would be attainable.
Yuvraj, on the other hand, in and out of the side in the last 12 months, has come into form at just the right moment. He has now scored 341 runs in the tournament, with a century and four half-centuries to his name. He averages the small matter of 113.66 and has also taken 11 wickets at 24.63 including a maiden five-wicket haul against Ireland.
What we now have in store is the match-up that many cricket fans will have been dreaming of as India and Pakistan meet in what promises to be an unmissable semi-final in Mohali on 30th March.
Yuvraj has an excellent record against Pakistan and India have never lost a 50-over match in a World Cup against their arch-rivals. However, Pakistan showed how strong they were with a ruthless demolition job against the West Indies in the opening quarter-final having finished on top of a competitive Group A.
They do have recent history of beating India in Mohali and have already gone way further in the tournament than they did in both 2003 and 2007. Aiming for a repeat of 1992, when they won, and 1999 when they reached the final, they will need their own talisman – Shahid Afridi – to inspire them as Yuvray has been inspiring India thus far.
As far as predictions go – as Chetan Narula says during his latest Cricket World @ The World Cup podcast, it will come down to who handles the pressure and the situation the best on the day.
One thing is for sure – it is a game nobody can afford to miss.