Champions Trophy 2002: When Yuvraj Singh snatched victory for India from the jaws of defeat
Yuvraj Singh gained immediate stardom when he scored a scintillating 84 against the world champions Australia in his debut game in the 2000 edition of the ICC Champions Trophy. His spectacular knock came in just 80 balls, and it ensured India made a decent first innings total against the Kangaroos.
The southpaw left the world awestruck with his phenomenal fielding in the second innings of the game, guiding India to a famous win over the Aussies.
From that point on Yuvraj grew in stature as a batsman, a fielder and also as a left arm orthodox spinner, which was an elusive trait in the Indian bowling lineup. He was undoubtedly one of the biggest match-winners in the limited overs format over the course of his one and a half decade long career.
The 2002 Champions Trophy was Yuvraj's second ICC event and after a phenomenal debut season, this was a gigantic opportunity for him to cement his place in the start studded Indian team. The Indian lower middle order had struggled to accelerate at the end of the innings more often than not, and that was a subject of bother for the team management.
The men in blue played the highest grade of cricket in the tournament and made it to the semi-finals with ease, where they had to face the Proteas. The semifinal was expected to be a blockbuster game between the two superpowers of cricket. Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly won the toss and elected to bat first in the day-night game.
The Indian innings collapsed from 102 for 1 to 135 for 4 in the span of 9 overs and the chances of a decent first innings total appeared bleak. Yuvraj then stitched a crucial 72-run partnership with Rahul Dravid and ensured India reached a respectable total.
Before being dismissed in the 49th over of the game, the southpaw had amassed 62 runs against his name. India managed to score 261 runs in their quota of 50 overs, giving a tough target to the opposition.
South Africa lost Graeme Smith in the third over of the innings, courtesy a brilliant catch by Yuvraj at backward point, and India were off the mark. However, the Indian bowlers could not capitalize on the early breakthrough, allowing Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis to craft a tremendous 178 run partnership for the second wicket.
The game seemed to have slipped out of India's grasp. But unfortunately for the Proteas, Gibbs retired hurt in the 38th over of the game after scoring his 9th ODI century, with his team within touching distance of victory.
Gibbs' departure was the turning point of the game. The 39th over saw one of the biggest turnarounds in cricket history. In an attempt to sweep the ball to the boundary Jonty Rhodes was caught at short fine-leg by Yuvraj, which is still regarded as one of the best catches in the history of limited overs cricket.
Yuvraj flew like Superman on the field and took another catch to dismiss Mark Boucher, and out of nowhere India were back in the game.
Eventually, India won the game by 10 runs and Virender Sehwag was chosen as the player of the match because of his phenomenal performance both with the bat and the ball. But it was Yuvraj who had made the turnaround possible with his acrobatic catches.
Here's a look at the highlights of that turnaround: