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The man who fulfilled a billion dreams: Yuvraj Singh retires as a player whose contributions extend beyond just numbers

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Feature
724   //    10 Jun 2019, 17:05 IST

Australia v India - 2011 ICC World Cup Quarter-Final
Australia v India - 2011 ICC World Cup Quarter-Final
“…but baba, he has a batting average of only 36.56 in ODIs and a bowling average of 38.68 in the same format, surely that's not great.
“So what was so special about him?”

The human mind is a funny old thing. It wanders around everywhere, at an unparalleled pace. A person might be having the best time of their life but their mind could take them to a place of utter darkness, instantly shifting the mood to something unwanted.

I often find myself looking at people on the streets while my mind wanders around. Sometimes, as I try to avoid puddles of water that form on the road after a shower of rain, at that very moment, my mind shifts to cricket.

And in this case, Yuvraj Singh.

I have lived this scenario in my head many times over. So many times, in fact, that it would be difficult for me to put a number on it. I imagine how my daughter, 10-15 years from now, would question my intelligence when I praise Yuvraj Singh for the player that he was.

And then I will let her know that cricket is more than mere numbers, that when it comes to Yuvraj, numbers don’t do him justice – not even in the slightest.

You see, averaging just a little over 36 with the bat and 38 with the ball isn’t the hallmark of a great player. There are tons of players with better numbers but most of those players would themselves admit that Yuvraj was more impactful than them.

To put it simply, there would be no 2007 T20 World Cup win and 2011 50-over World Cup triumph for India without Yuvraj – and that is not an opinion, that’s a fact.

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If ever there was a player that personified the phrase ‘tournament winner’, it is Yuvraj Singh.

One can never forget how he thrashed Stuart Broad for 6 sixes in the T20 World Cup in 2007, which allowed India to qualify for the knock-outs. Then, in the semi-final, he scored 70 from just 30 balls against Australia to take India from 41 for 2 after 8 overs to 188 for 5 in their 20-over quota.

His innings was the difference maker.

And then in the 2011 World Cup, he was named the player of the tournament due to his exceptional performances with both the bat and the ball. He ended the tournament with 15 wickets from 9 games and had an exceptional average of 25.13.

With the bat, he scored 362 runs from 8 innings with an average of an astonishing 90.50. In the quarter-final clash against Australia, Yuvraj not only took two wickets but also finished the game withn an unbeaten innings of 57 from 65 balls.

In the final against Sri Lanka, he once again played the role of a finisher by making 21 runs not out and also took two wickets with the ball.

His overall stats might not do him justice but once you look deep into the numbers, you will know what he truly was for the Indian cricket team.

The Men In Blue might have moved on from him but they still don't have a player as impactful as the southpaw was in his peak with both the bat and the ball. The younger generation might not be able to fathom what was so special about him, which makes us – the ones who watched him play – lucky because we know what he was capable of.

We are the ones that witnessed greatness unfold in front of our very eyes.

In my 20 years of watching cricket, I have never seen a more stylish left-handed batsman than Yuvraj. His shots were so smooth and clean that you could actually replace the word 'whistle' with 'Yuvraj Singh' in the quote 'clean as a whistle'.

And now, he has announced his retirement from international cricket. He fought very hard to get back but was also brave enough to accept that it was time to move on.

I don’t know how he views his own career but to the majority of us, Yuvraj Singh is a legend of the game. He might not have had the fanciest of numbers but when it mattered most, he was always there for his country, ready to make a difference.

And today, as he bids adieu to the international scene, I believe all of India stands united for him and will continue to do so even when their children and grandchildren ask them, "what was so special about Yuvraj Singh?"

Everything, children. Everything.

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