Will Yuvraj Singh get the farewell he deserves?
Yuvraj Singh is undoubtedly one of the greatest all-rounders India has ever produced. A stylish left-handed batsman with the ability to bowl and blessed with lightning quick fielding skills, Yuvraj was an integral part of the Indian cricket team in the limited overs format for more than a decade.
With 8701 runs and 111 wickets in 304 ODIs and 1177 runs and 28 wickets in 58 T20Is, he played a crucial role in many of India's most memorable victories. The most notable of those were the Natwest Trophy final against England in 2002, the 2007 T20 World Cup and the 2011 World Cup, where he was awarded the Player of the Tournament for his brilliant all-round performance.
However, things started going downhill for Yuvraj right when he was in the form of his life, in the year 2011. He was diagnosed with lung cancer, ruling him out of action for about a year.
He did make a comeback after his recovery, but he was unable to replicate the success he enjoyed a few years back. That cost him his place in the Champions Trophy squad in 2013.
Since then, it has been an in-and-out affair for Yuvraj in international cricket. He did perform well on a few occasions, like the 77 not out (35 balls) against Australia in the 1st T20I in 2013, the 150 (127 balls) against England in 2017 and the 53 (32 balls) against Pakistan in Champions Trophy in 2017. But that was never going to be enough to hold his place in the Indian squad given how competitive the fight for spots has become.
Added to Yuvraj's woes was his poor fitness, which made the selectors turn their heads away from him.
In the domestic circuit, Yuvraj played some fine innings to earn a spot in the KXIP squad for IPL 2018. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a forgettable year for him as he scored only 65 runs from 8 matches, leading to his exclusion from the playing XI for the rest of the season.
The IPL 2019 auction proved to be a golden opportunity for Yuvraj to turn the tables around and make his case stronger for another international comeback, at least for the T20Is. He was roped in by Mumbai Indians and he featured in the playing XI too, but his performances in the 4 matches (98 runs) he played weren't enough to retain his spot. The MI management soon started looking at younger alternatives to replace him for the rest of the matches.
For the fans, it is disheartening to see someone like Yuvraj warm the bench, watching his last lifeline go away without getting enough opportunities to make use of it. But that's how the game is - it hands opportunities to someone at the expense of another.
A player like Yuvraj definitely deserves a grand farewell, given how big his contribution to the game of cricket has been. But with his growing age and increasing competition - there are so many youngsters like Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer already knocking on the door - it may be just a daydream for Yuvraj to don the blue jersey again one last time.
Yuvraj deserves a farewell, but he has perhaps missed the last opportunity he has been handed to earn that.
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