Yuvraj Singh hanged his boots from international cricket on Monday as he announced his retirement in an emotional press conference at Mumbai.
Yuvraj came into India’s One-day International (ODI) team in October 2000 during the ICC knockout tournament in Nairobi. He made his Test debut at his home turf of Mohali against New Zealand in October 2003 and then he went on to become a part of the Indian T20 International squad in the ICC T20 World Cup in 2007, against Scotland at Durban.
The 37-year-old Yuvraj played 40 Tests, scoring 1900 runs with an average of 33.92 (3 hundreds and 11 50s). His highest Test score of 169 came against Pakistan in 2007 at Bengaluru.
A massive 304 ODIs was where Yuvi really blossomed, scoring 8701 runs at an average of 36.55 with 14 centuries and 42 fifties.
He is among the Indian greats who didn’t get a farewell game after contemporaries Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Gautam Gambhir.
Yuvraj Singh, architect of India’s two World Cup triumphs – the 2007 World T20 and the 2011 ODI World Cup – brings down curtains on a glorious career that spanned 17 years on the international stage. An elegant and dynamic middle-order batsman with a panache that few have been able to match in international cricket, Yuvraj was also a handy part-time bowler.
He was an omnipresent force in India’s limited-overs’ line-up for close to one and a half decades. During the peak of his career, he was considered the most dangerous and prolific middle-order batsman in ODI cricket.
So what made Yuvraj an all-time great in limited overs cricket?
We analyse his career to find out.
A Middle-Order ODI Genius
Yuvraj retires as India’s seventh highest run-getter in ODIs with 8609 runs at an average of 36.47 including 14 hundreds and 52 half-centuries. He redefined India’s middle-order batting from the day he slammed an 80-ball 84 in his debut ODI innings against Australia at Nairobi in the ICC Knockout 2000. The last of his 14 hundreds is also his career best score – a 150 against England at Cuttack in 2017.
After MS Dhoni, Yuvraj is India’s highest run-scorer from the middle-order (positions 4-7) in ODIs. While Dhoni has 9245 runs from middle-order batting positions, Yuvraj has 8193. The two forged a remarkable pair in the lower middle-order for India. Yuvraj won 27 Man of the Match awards in his illustrious career including four in the victorious 2011 World Cup where he was also named the Player of the Tournament.
10 of Yuvraj’s 13 hundreds from positions 4-7 resulted in a victory for India. His average rose to 50.41 and strike rate jumped to 93.74 in such matches – showcasing the match-winner he was for India during his career and his team’s dependency on him.
The Rapport with Dhoni
Yuvraj formed a formidable partnership with Dhoni in ODI cricket. Dhoni was his most successful partner in terms of partnership runs. The duo also shared 10 century-stands between them. The best amongst these was a 256-run stand at Cuttack against England. At 25/3, India were reeling when the two joined hands. They made hundreds to take India to a daunting 381.
The Yuvraj-Dhoni duo aggregated 2336 runs between them at an average of 68.7 per partnership including 19 fifty-plus stands.
Yuvraj has also had 1000-plus runs in partnerships with Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina. His exploits with Kaif in the NatWest finals against England in 2003 and Dravid in the 2003 World Cup match against Pakistan are the stuff of cricketing legend.
A Golden Arm
Famous for breaking partnerships, Yuvraj was used many times by India’s captains in the middle overs. While mostly a part-time option, Yuvraj got the better of some big names in his ODI career. This includes having a wood over Kevin Pietersen whom he dismissed four times in the format. He also dismissed Kumar Sangakkara, Andrew Flintoff, Craig McMillan, Grant Elliott, Mushfiqur Rahim and Morne van Wyk thrice each in ODIs. Yuvraj recorded a five-wicket haul against Ireland in the 2011 World Cup (5/31 at Bengaluru) and has picked up two other four wicket hauls in his career – against Namibia in the 2003 World Cup (4/6) and England in 2008 (4/28).
The 2011 World Cup
Fighting cancer and form, Yuvraj owned the 2011 World Cup with a sensational all-round performance resulting in a Player of the Tournament award. A controversial pick in the World Cup squad owing to his poor form, Yuvraj silenced his critics with some great performances.
He scored a hat-trick of half-centuries against England, Ireland and Netherlands to kick-start the 2011 World Cup and also picked up a five-wicket haul against Ireland. At Chennai against the West Indies, Yuvraj slammed 113 and picked up two wickets to win the Man of the Match award. A crucial cameo (57* off 65 balls) and two wickets (Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke) against Australia at Ahmedabad in the second quarter finals fetched him another Man of the Match award.
The T20 beast
Yuvraj’s exploits as a T20 player can best be explained by his impact in another ICC tournament before the 2011 World Cup. In the inaugural World T20 in 2007 in South Africa, Yuvraj slammed a 12-ball half-century against England which included six sixes in an over against Stuart Broad. The record for the fastest half-century in the format at the international level remains with Yuvraj for that Durban knock.
He has seven Man of the Match honours in T20Is and a Player of the Tournament award in the 2007 World T20. He made 1177 runs in the format at an average close to 30 and a strike rate of 136.38. He also has eight half-centuries in the format for India. His all-round presence was felt in T20Is too where he has 28 wickets at an average of 17.82 and an economy of 7.06.