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Yuvi times it perfectly

Ask Yuvraj Singh whether he has felt any difference between the player he was before the World Cup and the one six matches into the competition and the answer you will get will be a resounding "no". Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports. Men who matter

cricket Updated: Mar 22, 2011 00:56 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

Ask Yuvraj Singh whether he has felt any difference between the player he was before the World Cup and the one six matches into the competition and the answer you will get will be a resounding "no".

However, it's there for all to see how significant a role Yuvraj is playing in this campaign. There is no need to go overboard and start worshipping him. A cursory glance at how India have advanced to the quarter-finals and how much they have benefited from the services of this left-hander makes the picture clear.

Yuvraj has been India's most valuable player so far.

He was Man of the Match in three of the team's four victories. These performances came against weaker sides like the West Indies, Ireland and the Netherlands. Can a player's true value be judged from how he does against such teams? http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/22_03_11-metro-20b.jpg

The answer is no and yes. No, because these sides don't test the actual merit of a player. Yes, because someone still had to deliver to take the team past these smaller hurdles. In all three matches, Yuvraj stood up when others failed to live up to expectations.

Against West Indies, he braved Chennai's sapping humidity to anchor the innings. And with the bat and ball, he has done a smart job to hold the team together.

Considering that loose areas in the team are being exposed with each passing match, MS Dhoni needed someone like Yuvraj to infuse optimism about his team's chances. In a batting-heavy line-up with glaring inadequacies in bowling, Yuvraj at times has made up for the shortcomings of the specialist bowlers by stemming the flow of runs and breaking partnerships.

Sweet redemption

For a batsman who lost his berth in the Test side last year and was demoted to the B category of the Indian board’s annual contracts, the redemption must be satisfying. Having got a chance to bat at No. 4 and getting the time to pace his innings against the West Indies, he responded by scoring a century.

Amid rave reviews of his bowling, Sunday's innings in Chennai was clearly the highest point of his World Cup campaign. He showed that, taking longer than usual to savour the moment after reaching the landmark and acknowledging the applause with uncharacteristic humility.

Unlike in the past, there have been no animated gestures or swearing after achieving success in this World Cup. He has only reassured himself of his abilities.

This is a big boost India will carry into the knockout stage. The cricket world knows how much of an impact Yuvraj can have on a match in these conditions, not having been anywhere near his best coming into the World Cup.

Performance brings about confidence and with that under his belt, Yuvraj will now be the flag-bearer of a billion dreams and a threat to many others.