Yuvraj Singh comes of age
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Yuvraj Singh comes of age

For quite some time now, Yuvraj Singh has been an integral part of India's resurgence and the youngster has now added another ingredient to his armoury ? consistency.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2003 15:06 IST

For quite some time now, Yuvraj Singh has been an integral part of India's cricketing resurgence and the strapping youngster from Punjab has now added the most vital ingredient to his batting armoury -- consistency -- to demand true respect and acclaim for his abilities.

Desite the enormous talent, Yuvraj often drew a lot of flak for his lack of consistency during the early stages of his career, but the 21-year-old has now made it a habit to come up with match-winning knocks for his country in crunch situations and relishes the challenge of doing it every time he steps in to bat.

His maiden century may have taken a long time to come for someone of his calibre but Yuvraj has learnt to be patient, fully aware that dreams come true only if you keep working hard.

The young batting sensation struck a career-best unbeaten 102 off just 85 balls in India's triumph in the opening TVS Cup triangular series match against Bangladesh, a milestone which was achieved after three years and 70 one-day internationals.

It was a typically aggressive knock by the Punjab lad who completed his first 50 in 60 balls and the second 50 in just 25 balls.

"I waited for it (century) for a long time. It is indeed a special moment," Yuvraj said as India scripted a huge 200- run victory over Bangladesh.

Yuvraj, who has an one-day aggregate of 1631 runs in 71 matches at an average of 31.36, however, did not rate the knock as his best saying he values more some of the other knocks which came in cruch situations.

He is aware that batting in the lower middle order may not give him enough opportunities to score centuries but believes that personal milestones have little relevance in a team game.

"I generally come at a stage when I have to go for the quick runs. I try to bat till the 50th over and help my team put up a big total on the board. What matters is that the team should win in the end," said the youngster whose previous best was 98 against Sri Lanka in 2001.

Yuvraj oozes a quiet confidence but he admitted he was beginning to get a trifle worried about the magical three-figure mark eluding him for so long. He had even asked the team's sports psychologist Sandy Gordon, who had interacted with the players a couple of times during the World Cup, as to why the century was not coming.

It is not known what Gordon actually told him but what is clear is that Yuvraj has emerged as a far more reliable batsman willing to take more responsibility on his shoulder.

The absence of a number of seniors, including batting genius Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, has provided Yuvraj the platform to not only make his mark but also improve upon his statistical records which do not justify his immense potential.

"The absence of class players like Tendulkar and Dravid certainly makes a lot of difference. They are great players, but it also gives an opportunity to some of the young players to prove their worth," Yuvraj said.

Yuvraj's new batting confidence has a lot to do with captain Sourav Ganguly who has always backed the youngster and pressed for his selection despite his erratic display in the early stages of his career.

Yuvraj burst onto the international scene with a typically belligerent 84 against Australia in the ICC Knockout competition in Kenya in 2000-01 and the media hailed him as the 'messiah' who was destined to play a big part in Indian cricket which seemed to have found the rejuvenating fresh blood which it desperately needed at that time.

But he could not live upto the expectations and a string of poor scores led to his ouster from the team after a disastrous tour of South Africa 2001.

He only regained his place in the side against Zimbabwe in early 2002.

With his heroic effort in the Natwest trophy final against England at the hallowed turf of the Lord's and a few cameos in the recent World Cup, Yuvraj has once again become the blue-eyed boy of Indian cricket.

First Published: Apr 12, 2003 14:44 IST