IPL Auctions 2014: Five magical T20 innings that justify Yuvraj Singh's massive bid
Form is temporary, class is permanent. Thus goes a sporting cliche that was exemplified by the price that Yuvraj Singh commanded in the just concluded auctions of the Indian Premier League. A player who is on the margins of the Indian cricket squad, past his prime many critics would say, and has been having a terrible run of form.
The maverick all-rounder who drove India to glory at the 2011 World Cup has looked a shadow of himself in his comeback performances but a lot of that is down to lack of confidence. The fact that Yuvraj Singh was ruthlessly pursued by a top franchisee at the auctions, the fact that they risked creating an imbalanced squad, and paid almost 25% of their entire kitty indicates the value that he can potentially bring to a team with his all-round abilities.
It will also add to Yuvraj’s confidence in his own abilities. It is no secret that Virat Kohli who will be leading the Royal Challengers Bangalore is an admirer and supporter of Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj will add teeth to that team’s middle order which is already beefed up at the top with the likes of Chris Gayle, AB De Villiers and Virat Kohli. His part-time bowling will also come in handy. He has been an active campaigner in International cricket for over a decade now and he will offer valuable experience to the side.
Many critics have argued that the price fetched by Yuvraj is an exorbitant one and while that may be acceptable to an extent given the context of the 60 crore cap, it must be said that the player has all the credentials to justify the trust and confidence that has been invested in him.
The biggest quality of the player is that he is a one man show, he is a finisher and an aggressive batsman of the highest grade. His timing is impeccable and he accelerates without being agricultural, playing orthodox cricketing shots. Here is a list of some fine match-winning performances that Yuvraj Singh has delivered in T-20 matches that validate his selection at the auction:
70 of 30 balls, India vs. Australia, Semi-Final of T-20 World Cup 2007
This knock played by Yuvraj Singh is not remembered often enough. It is relegated to a secondary status in the face of the blitz he came up with against England but I believe that it was a knock of greater substance. Yuvraj found himself in a challenging situation in this game and had to do more than just provide the final impetus.
He had to stabilize a stumbling innings when India were 41-2 at the end of 8 overs. He built his innings to perfection playing in partnership with Robin Uthappa picking up a boundary an over initially, putting the loose delivery to bed and unleashing his animal instincts at the latter end of the innings. He smashed five-sixes, five-boundaries to propel India to a weighty total of 188 that proved good enough to overcome a powerful Australian side.
Even more than the runs, it is the childlike enthusiasm and aggression that Yuvraj brings to a contest that makes him an immense competitor. One can’t forget the image of him at the end as he held on to the final catch of the match as he pumped his fists and punched the air announcing the swagger of a nation at Durban.
72 off 36 balls, India vs. Pakistan, 2nd T-20 Pakistan’s tour of India 2012/13
The heat and intensity of an India-Pakistan encounter still retains, even if in a moderated manner, the burning flavor of a do-or-die contest. There exists a thin line between competition and animosity in these encounters and one can easily spill into the other.
India were defeated in the first T-20 of the series which meant that India had to bring their top-game in this contest to level the series. The manner of the contest was traditional as India’s potent batting lined up against the pace and ferocity of Pakistan’s bowling. Pakistan boasted of a rejuvenated and dynamic pace attack that had everything: swing, pace and bounce. Add to it the menace of Saeed Ajmal who is arguably the best off-spinner operating in the game right now.
India started well but slipped to 53/2 at the end of 7 overs when Yuvraj took the game in his hands and departed only in the last over of the innings. He was supported by Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni at the other end but he anchored, as well as fuelled the innings with a substantial score.
Scoring at a strike rate of 200.00, the southpaw smashed 7 sixes with characteristic ease using his ability to time the ball to great effect. It became evident that he was in an ominous mood as took particular delight in taking on Shahid Afridi and slog-sweeped him to a massive 91 meter long distance.
However, that was merely a prophecy of that which was to come. He finished his innings with a complete swagger smashing three consecutive sixes against Saeed Ajmal making a mockery of the spin wizard. India won the match with 11 runs to spare with Yuvraj chipping in with the crucial wicket of Ahmed Shehzad.