first_imgStar all-rounder Yuvraj Singh will add another feather to his cap when he takes the field in the second semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy against Bangladesh on Thursday. Yuvraj will feature in his 300th ODI match, 17 years after he made his debut for India.Yuvraj is only the fifth Indian cricketer after Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid to achieve the rare milestone.Seventeen years ago, Yuvraj made his debut for India in this very tournament, but back then it was known as the ICC Knockout event featuring 11 teams. He did not get an opportunity to bat in his first match against Kenya and only bowled four overs for 16 runs with one maiden.But the southpaw announced himself in the next game against the mighty Australians, smashing a match-winning 84 against the likes of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and Ian Harvey in Nairobi. Yuvraj’s special talent was unveiled to the world for the first time and he didn’t look back since that day.Standing on the cusp of his 300th One-day International, it still remains a difficult task to describe Yuvraj in a nutshell.The 40 Test matches that he has played will not be able to tell the story of a cricketer, who, inarguably, will rank among India’s greatest ever match-winners in limited overs cricket. And that list isn’t too big.Kapil Dev, Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are the names that immediately come to mind when one talks about match winners in the shorter versions. And that’s the paradox.advertisementBut for all the talent and skill that he possess, it’s consistency which as deserted him all these years. In 299 ODIs Yuvraj has amassed 8622 runs at an average of 36.84 with 14 hundreds and 52 half-centuries.He has batted in the middle-order throughout his career and played the role of finisher for the Men in Blue in limited-overs cricket which is perhaps why his average is not up there in the high forties. On his day Yuvraj smashed the best of bowlers and ripped apart dangerous bowling attacks although that hasn’t happened regularly in his career.But fortunately for India, Yuvraj has always been a big match player and his record in ICC events and important tournaments has been phenomenal, to say the least.HIGH POINTS OF YUVI’S CAREERIt was white ball cricket where he found his mojo, and Yuvraj has always held his own with his immense contribution in the 2002 NatWest final and India’s two World Cup triumphs.The six sixes off Stuart Broad during the inaugural World T20 in 2007 remains one of the most memorable sights in world cricket. Yuvraj finished the tournament with 148 runs in five innings at 29.60 with two half-centuries and a highest score of 70. His performance against England and Australia took India into the final where they defeated arch-rivals Pakistan to clinch the maiden T20 World Cup.Reuters PhotoWinning the tournament in South Africa helped it gain impetus and those sixes sown the seeds of an alternate brand of cricket.From 2005 to 2007, Yuvraj was at his peak averaging over 40 in ODI cricket. Six of his 14 hundreds came during this period and resulted in India turning into a dominant force in the limited-overs formats.And then came the big one – 2011 World Cup. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s six has a recall value — being shown million times — just like Kapil Dev’s catch off Vivian Richards in the 1983 final.But, perhaps, one of the biggest reasons for India’s victory was the 15 wickets he took and 362 runs he scored at an average of over 90.Reuters PhotoAs he went about his task Yuvraj coughed blood, couldn’t eat, and was totally unaware that he was suffering from a rare germ cell cancer.BATTLE WITH CANCER AND COMEBACKThe battle against cancer was the biggest he has fought in his life. It was tougher than a Lee yorker or a James Anderson outswinger.The phases of life that he has gone through, anyone else would have been happy to survive, but Yuvraj, the fighter, wanted to play on.Yuvraj went to America immediately after being named the Man of the tournament in the World Cup in 2011 and started the four-month long chemotherapy treatment.He made a comeback and it was an emotionally overwhelming feeling. But after every high, there is a low, and Yuvraj’s was the 2014 World T20 final against Sri Lanka in Dhaka. He scored 11 off 21 balls and India lost the match as he couldn’t accelerate.As it often happens in Indian cricket, his epitaph was written and no one would have even bet a penny that he would make a comeback at 33.advertisementBut then he had made a comeback in T20 Internationals in Australia. People thought that the only version he could play. But he had conviction, did the hard yards in Ranji Trophy and earned an ODI recall.The 150 against England at Cuttack meant he would be on the plane to England.”His contribution to Indian cricket has been outstanding. He’s been total match-winner for India, won us so many tournaments and series. This is just a testimony to the kind of talebt he possesses and it’s obviously you need to have all those things to play 300 ODIs for India. I congratulate him and wish him all the very best, hopefully he can play a lot more for us and get in those match-winning performance all over again. I hope tomorrow is a special one for him,” Kohli said.Reuters PhotoHe won’t be prolific like he used to be in his younger days. You won’t find him standing at point like a crouching tiger. With Ravindra Jadeja around, Kohli will rarely turn up to him to roll in some of his effective ‘pie chuckers’.But he will be present somewhere around – like strikers in a game of football – who will not do anything for 85 minutes but will do the needful in the 88th or 89th.Yuvraj has that calibre and that is why he made a comeback to ODIs after nearly four years. It’s time to doff that hat as he steps in for his 300th outing.There were cricketers. And there was one Yuvraj Singh.last_img

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