When Yuvraj Singh’s name was thrown open for bidding at the 2016 IPL auction, for nearly 30 seconds or so no franchise raised the pedal. It appeared that one of the most expensive buys in IPL history (RCB paid Rs 14 crore for him in 2014, Delhi Daredevils paid a staggering Rs 16 crore in 2015) could completely miss out.
But then, once again RCB entered the bidding and others followed suit. In more than a minute, Yuvraj had climbed way over his base price of Rs 2 crore.
This time, though, the bidders stuck to a more reasonable threshold. Then, Hyderabad jumped in at the end and bought him for Rs 7 crore. Yuvraj may have been the most under-performing player in IPL history, something to which he himself agrees, but teams were obviously well aware of just what an experienced player like Yuvraj could offer.
In T20, experience plays a huge role, especially when things go down to the wire. Hyderabad team management’s Tom Moody and VVS Laxman would be feeling proud of themselves for their foresight especially after Yuvraj’s vital contribution against Kolkata Knight Riders in the eliminator on Wednesday.
Their pick showed his worth at the Feroz Shah Kotla when the side was struggling at 71/3 in the 10th over. They badly needed a stable partnership at that junction. Had Yuvraj gotten out early and had Sunrisers lost on Wednesday, Yuvraj would have endured another lean season.
Yuvraj showed maturity by not taking unnecessary risks and also showed prudence while taking on wicket-takers Kuldeep Yadav and Jason Holder. He managed to smack them too for boundaries. With Deepak Hooda, he scripted a 49-run partnership which took the team to 120 in the 15th over.
Though Hooda was soon run out, Yuvraj kept plodding. He next batted alongside Naman Ojha and put together another 21-run stand. These partnerships may not appear to be major but they came at crucial junctures and paid huge dividends later as SRH managed to beat KKR by 22 runs. Yuvraj’s knock of 44 had come handy.
In the eight matches he has featured in so far, Yuvraj has played three innings of note other than that in the eliminator. Against KXIP at Mohali, the team was in a similar situation and needed 83 in eight overs. Yuvraj once again built up a partnership with Hooda and eventually finished the game with an unbeaten 42.
Similarly, he joined Shikhar Dhawan against Mumbai Indians after Kane Williamson departed for just two. Yuvraj was on the crease for nearly eight overs and made sure Dhawan was able to play his natural game. At the end, Dhawan returned unbeaten on 82, Yuvraj scored 39 and the team reached 177.
Another reason in Yuvraj’s renewed success could be the change in his approach. While technique wise he has certainly tweaked his stance a little and appears to be eagerly looking out for a fuller delivery, his positive mental approach has made a big difference. Shot selection was never a problem for him but the added sense of responsibility he now displays reflects the seasoned attitude of a mature player with tons of experience.
Against spinners he is targeting straight boundaries and has been technically elegant with his follow-through. In the last game against KKR, he had played a slog-sweep that was caught in the deep. On Wednesday, he corrected himself and dispatched Yadav over the head.
Yuvraj is certainly getting his magic back in this edition of the IPL. Though he hasn’t found a place in the Indian side travelling to Zimbabwe, a better finish to the IPL could open doors for him in future.