There are no guarantees in life, and even the statistics-driven world of sports is no exception to that rule. Yet, Yuvraj Singh could not have anticipated the avalanche of derisive anger that was directed at him, particularly by fans on the social media, after he spectacularly failed in the World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka earlier this month.
The player who produced extraordinary efforts to led India to triumphs in the 2007 World T20 as well as the 50-over World Cup three years ago was suddenly left shaken as some unruly people even pelted stones at his home in Chandigarh. A hero not so long ago on and off the pitch, Yuvraj was suddenly made the sole villain for India’s capitulation against a well-oiled Sri Lanka.
After his team mates, former players and a large section of the media sprang to his defence, it was his first match since that 21-ball 11 on April 6 when he walked out to bat against Delhi Daredevils at Sharjah on Thursday. It was perfectly understandable if Yuvraj was feeling the pressure, and it would not have helped being repeatedly reminded that the Royal Challengers Bangalore had paid top buck — $2.3m (Rs 14 crore approx) — at this year’s IPL players’ auction. If that made him the most expensive pick, he walked into bat on Thursday aware that Chris Gayle was not playing.
In the end, he showed he can still be the enforcer, although his India career has been a start-stop affair. His match-winning 52 not out off 29 balls, spurred RCB to an easy win over Delhi Daredevils. The innings will have to be put in perspective.
The DD attack was barely comparable to the brilliant Sri Lanka bowling, led by Lasith Malinga. But Yuvraj fought his demons, and also convinced Virat Kohli, the man left stranded at the other end in Mirpur but delighted this time as Yuvraj’s partner.
His technique, footwork and fitness have all come under scrutiny, since he returned after a successful battle against cancer and then underwent fitness training in France. But cricket also needs its showmen, and Yuvraj on Thursday showed he can still be counted as one.