India’s defeat in Sunday’s World Twenty20 in Bangladesh against a brilliant Sri Lanka has left frustrated fans targeting Yuvraj Singh as the villain after his 21-ball 11 and inability to rotate the strike with Virat Kohli, in sublime touch but stuck at the other end.
Soon after Sri Lanka triumphed, disappointed fans started protesting outside Yuvraj’s home in Chandigarh. Fans also pelted stones at his house to vent their frustration.
Such attacks aren’t uncommon in a cricket-crazy nation with cricketers having faced the wrath of fans after their slow start in the 2003 World Cup and the first round exit four years later.
However, the vehemence of the attacks and the singling out of an individual has shocked the cricket fraternity. Cricketers past and present have rallied around Yuvraj, with Sachin Tendulkar saying, “Yuvi had a tough day, and can be criticised.”
“But he should not be crucified, neither should he be written off,” Tendulkar added.
Yuvraj – the hero of many a triumph including the 2002 NatWest Trophy in England, the 2007 WT20 and the 2011 World Cup, where he was the Man-of-the-Tournament – successfully battled cancer after the 2011 World Cup and staged a comeback .
The 32-year-old, however, has struggled in recent times. He was axed from the ODI squad after the South Africa tour, and T20 was seen as his best bet. But barring a fluent 60 in an inconsequential game against Australia, he looked short on confidence in Bangladesh.
But that is no excuse for such behaviour, feels Kapil Dev.
“We still don’t understand sport. Look at Sri Lanka, they lost four World Cup finals. There is nothing wrong with criticism, but people are losing their heads,” the 1983 World Cup-winning skipper told HT.
“Yuvraj did have a rough time. But which cricketer hasn’t gone through that? Have I not? Have Sourav, Sachin, Sunil Gavaskar not gone through such a phase?” Kapil asked.
But is this the end of his India carrier for the southpaw? “It all depends on him, how much he wants to play,” Kapil signed off.
Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, too, sprang to Yuvraj’s defence. In his column in HT, he said, “Here is a man who has won you two world cups and to get after him for one bad day is a massive sign of immaturity.”
Yuvraj’s best chance to redeem himself will be at the Indian Premier League, which kicks off on April 16. He was bought at a record price of Rs 14 crore by Bangalore Royal Challengers.