19 September 2007 is a date which every cricket fan remembers fondly. The inaugural edition of the T20 world cup was made special by the inning which happened on this day. Late night at around 1 am, Indians burst in joy seeing the piece of leather connecting with the wood to land into the stands 6 times in an over. The cricketing world was in awe of the 36 runs in an over, scored by the flamboyant batsman, Yuvraj Singh, who made it into the history books for numerous reasons. It was not the first time someone had achieved the feat of 6 sixes in an over, but it was the first instance of it happening when the opposition was strong and the match was crucial.
The six sixes and the fastest fifty coming just off 12 balls helped India win the do or die match against England by a margin of 18 runs. It also boosted the confidence of the young men in the Blue side, who went on to win the world cup. The world cup victory was the primary reason for BCCI to think about a T20 league, which eventually led to the experimental edition of IPL in 2008 which turned out to be a huge success. The success came in both terms, financial terms and popularity terms, resultant of which Indian cricket started generating revenue subsequently making the cash-rich BCCI increase its value in world cricket. All of it happened due to one man, Yuvraj Singh, who brought Indian cricket into the limelight with his feat.
The sixer king has achieved numerous records, but to everyone's surprise, cricket was not the first thing he wanted to do in his life. He wanted to be a skater. It was his father Yograj Singh's influence, who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. Little did he know, that Yuvi would not just follow in his footsteps, but set a benchmark for every player who plays the game. His father's dedication, along with Yuvi's efforts and style gave the world one of the most stylish left-handers in the world.
He dominated domestic cricket like a boss. His domination can be witnessed when the legend MS Dhoni could not help but show Yuvi's character in his biopic portraying him as a treat to watch, but a threat to the opposition. His innings of 358 being more than an entire score of Bihar 357, speak the volumes of his threat. His consistent performance like this earned him a place in U-19 2000 world cup.
With Yuvi starring for India, Men in Blue junior lifted the U-19 world cup in 2000 under the leadership of Mohammad Kaif. Yuvi was awarded the man of the tournament for his all-around display on the field. Since then every world cup India won, Yuvi played a vital role in it.
His heroics in the U-19s earned him the maiden call up for India. He got the chance to bat for the first time against mighty Australia in ICC champions trophy 2000, where he let the world know his name. He scored a magnificent knock of 84 off 80 balls against the Aussie attack with the likes of McGrath, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and others. His quickfire knock helped the team score good and India won the match by 20 runs. It was the same match that became famous for a rare sight of God of the cricket Sachin Tendulkar sledging McGrath.
Yuvi then continued to perform for the Men in Blue in all three departments. The U-19 duo of Kaif and Yuvraj made it impossible for the opposition to score through cover and point with their electrifying fielding. Not to forget the rocket arm throw of Yuvi, which hardly missed the target. He continued to be a part of the team with ups and downs, but he came with full might in the 2007 T20 world cup. Being in the team as one of the seniors of the game, he performed like one. His sixes gave Stuart Broad nightmares for days. His six off Brett Lee sailed into the stands, and his innings of 70 in 30 balls, ensured the mighty Aussie defeat for the first team in ICC knockout since 1999. Even though Shahid Afridi was the man of the tournament in that world cup, it was Yuvi who was the real man of honour for India who helped them lift the cup.
In the 2011 world cup, Yuvi repaid the favour of God of the cricket by accomplishing his ultimate dream to win a world cup for Team India. Yuvi's selection was a shock due to his slump of form before the world cup, but he silenced the media and critics with her stellar show. He amassed 362 runs and scalped 15 wickets in the tournament. His courage was visible when he was vomiting blood on the field against West Indies, but was adamant to be on the crease. His illness didn't stop him to perform and he played the best knocks in the entire tournament. His courageous act and stellar performances earned him the Man of the Tournament award yet again. He roared dominantly and soared high to help India lift the world cup after 28 years. It was impossible to win the world cup without Yuvi.
However, his bravery also did some harm to his body. He was diagnosed with cancer, and the whole world was left in utter shock to see the champion in a state of illness. Every single cricket fan wept when they came to know that he carried the tumour inside his body throughout the tournament because he wanted India to lift the cup. Everyone prayed for his speedy recovery, and just like a champion, he defeated the illness soon. However, his resurrection was going to be difficult after the illness. But he was determined to roar yet again.
And boy, he did that in style. In his first appearance after recovering from the illness, he took the attack on Aussie bowlers to smash 77 runs off 35 balls, allowing Indians to win the T20 game in 2013. His towering six made the cricket world witness the vintage Yuvraj which they always loved to see. He then performed for the team a few more times again but decided to retire from the game sometime later. However, he continued his good work for a noble cause for cancer awareness and treatment by starting his foundation You-We-Can. His foundation continues to bring the lost smiles back on the faces of people by curing them.
Yuvraj may not play the game at the international level anymore, but the legacy he left is huge. His contribution to Indian cricket is immense and irreplaceable. He is one of the best all-rounders ever to have played the game. His dominant performances in all three departments were always the x-factor for India. His elegant backlift saw the stylish shots coming from his bat, his bowling made the three stumps difficult to remain in the same position for too long, his fielding saved many runs for the team, and his rocket arm throw caught the batsmen short increasing their travelling distance to the pavilion. His champion spirit, on and off the field will always be remembered. He will always be mentioned as a fighter, who defeated everything coming his way, leading to his victory. His fighting spirit will inspire generations to come. We wish he lives the longest possible life and continues to inspire people.
Author:- Ashwin Jangam (Cricket Analyst, Host, Poet, Entertainer )
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