Yuvraj Singh runs as he leaves the field during their second Twenty20 cricket match against New Zealand in Chennai. Reuters/UNI
Over a year back, Yuvraj Singh stood screaming victory and then hugging his skipper MS Dhoni with all intensity. That was the World Cup final, the occasion demanding such a reaction.
For most part on Tuesday night though Yuvi seemed inanimate, whether at deep square leg or point, his usual fielding positions on the day. The swagger was missing, the intensity was less and nothing he said, or reacted to, caught the eye.
This may have been just another T20I on the calendar, but for Yuvraj, it was a return to life. Perhaps he didn't want to be the centre of attraction. MS Dhoni had said ahead of the T20I series, "By talking about his comeback, we are subjecting him to a lot of pressure. We want to make things as normal as we can."
An important catch, at deep fine leg by Ashwin earlier, saw him tiptoe to join in the celebrations but after thinking hard and sensing his walk may take too long, he walked back to deep square leg. Even the catch he took to get rid of James Franklin was celebrated very mildly, although it brought the crowd to its feet, cheering.
But by the time he had taken that catch, he had already won an important battle. He had bowled two overs without giving away too many runs. The first ball, slightly wide, showed rustiness and was hit deep for one, the second was on the stumps, the third beat the bat, the fourth was mistimed. It was clear. He was not going to be easy meat. Although in the second over, he was hit for a six down the ground, it also brought out a chance through a hard straight hit. It hurt as he put his hand out and he went out for medical attention. Perhaps, the catch would have stuck to the hands of a Yuvi in full flow.
Nerves though were betrayed a bit on the wicket. He played the first ball awkwardly jumping, due to caution, and dashed for a non-existent single instinctively, only to return in time.
The second was dealt just like that. But that was it. A bit of width saw his bat guiding the ball to deep point, and then a meaty shot through covers set the crowd roaring. A pull shot was mishit but Brendon McCullum and Kylie Mills had a nasty collision going for the catch. Fortune had favoured the hero. This was his day, after all.