Going into the Indian Premier League, the mood might not have been all that great for Yuvraj Singh who was just about recovering from a string of nasty barbs directed at him following India’s loss to Sri Lanka in the final of the World T20. His house was pelted at.
But his teammates rallied around him much the same way while he was fighting a battle against cancer. His former teammate Sachin Tendulkar had said don’t crucify him just yet. And don’t write him off was his cautionary request. Harbhajan Singh joined Yuvi’s huddle to say how the champion batsman has almost singlehandedly won India two World Cups.
In the backdrop of all of these, for Yuvraj it was a battle of sorts, more internal than external. The accusation that Yuvraj consumed too many balls, didn’t sit well with his reputation, especially for someone who had a brilliant strike rate in the limited overs formats.
The left-hander was cautious and scratchy in the beginning after he walked in to bat with his Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli following Parthiv Patel’s dismissal at 62/2.
A snorter from Mohammad Shami and Yuvraj while taking evasive action guided that over thirdman for a four. Not convincing though. But that perhaps let Yuvraj to exert and impose as Shami was taken off the attack after three overs.
A brutal flat-swat off Rahul Sharma for a six followed. Settling nicely into his groove, Yuvi was at his best: the full swing of his bat was back, the arc he loves the most once again started to appear his favourite scoring zone. With Kohli matching Yuvi’s shot for shot, the left-hander couldn’t have waited for a better stage to announce why he loves challenges — both internal and external.
‘Never out of form’
The same batsman who failed to put bat on ball during the World T20 final in Mirpur, the same player who failed to hold on to catches at the Sher-e Bangla stadium just a couple of weeks back was once again timing the ball like he was never quite out of form.
“Yuvraj won us two World Cups. He’s a proven match-winner and it’s important to back a player like that,” skipper Virat said after the match. Coming from someone who actually recommended Yuvraj for RCB paving the way for this season’s highest buy at the auctions, this was not a bad way to redeem himself. A score of 52 off 29 with five signature sixes will at least stop those barbs coming his way.