Yuvraj Singh took 21 balls to score 11 runs in the ICC World T20 2014 final against Sri Lanka © Getty Images
By Veturi Srivatsa
Forget the hyperbole the electronic media anchors created by packaging Yuvraj Singh as the villain of India’s failure to win the ICC World Twenty (T20) 2014, the poking the left-handed batsman received from the social media sites Twitter and Facebook and SMS left one tittering.
Yuvraj must have found some solace to see fellow-cricketers coming out in his support and sympathetically stating that they, too, had off-days in their careers like he had in the final against Sri Lanka at Mirpur. They reminded his critics how unfair their vilification is of the man who helped win India the 2007 inaugural edition of the shortest version of the game and the 50-over World Cup three years ago.
Sachin Tendulkarspoke up for all the sane-minded people to pep up Yuvraj: “Yuvi, one off day cannot undermine your tremendous contribution in many sweet memories over the years. You may be down today but you are far from being out.(sic)”
From the political class, Omar Abdullah tweeted like a good sportsman: “I bet he’s more disappointed with himself than anyone else is.”
One man could, perhaps, understand Yuvraj’s miserable feeling at this point of time. Chetan Sharma, the former India medium-pacer, similarly had to bear the brunt after he was hit for a match-winning last-ball six by Pakistani stalwart Javed Miandad in one of the desert carnival games in Sharjah.
Chetan confessed in private that even now he is reminded of that six at social gatherings, spoiling his evenings, though he says he tries to laugh it off or ticks them off. It sure rankles and it will for Yuvraj, too.
Chetan’s is a one-off thing whereas in Yuvraj’s case he has to ward off self-doubts. He and his other teammates, including Virat Kohli, know how difficult it was to bat on a pitch where the ball was not coming on to the bat and to the misfortune of the Indians, the Sri Lankan bowlers did their homework, having known each and every batsman.
What must have hurt Yuvraj was that he could not go after spinner Sachithra Senanayake when he was unable to connect Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekera’s well-directed yorkers wide of the off-stump. You may as well describe India’s batting in the death overs to some kind of a policy paralysis, the two words the critics of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) use in derision.
Yuvraj is accused of stalling the momentum and yes, in the context of the match, it appeared to be so. But will any batsman willfully pull his side down? Certainly, not Yuvraj! The only thing he could have done under the circumstances was to throw his wicket away, but then which batsman would do that when he knows he has the ability to turn things around at any moment with his power and timing?
Why only Yuvraj, even MS Dhoni just didn’t know how to counter the Sri Lankan strategy. Suddenly you realise that there were no boundaries in the last six overs. I wonder if Kohli, Yuvraj and Dhoni could recollect such a helpless batting display in any T20 game?
Bad enough that we have a billion cricket experts and most of them revel in watching the kind of banal analysis the vernacular channels feed them. Some of them deflected their gunfire from Yuvraj to his friend and captain, saying Dhoni erred in not sending Suresh Raina at the fall of Rohit Sharma’s wicket instead of Yuvraj.
Everybody has T20 hindsight, perfect vision. Dhoni’s answer would be simple, that he wanted a right-left combination. Can anyone question the logic? The same Yuvraj batted at the same spot in the previous match against Australia and made 60. If Yuvraj had not been sent in at No.4 and if India had lost the game, the same experts would have again bayed for Dhoni’s blood, asking why he changed the batting order after Yuvraj had found his nick in the previous match!
As Dhoni said, this is not the time to speculate about Yuvraj’s future. Will be he be around a year down the road for the World Cup in the antipodes? He will be, but the only thing to be sure about is his fitness.That can be found out during the gruelling Indian Premier League in the next two hot and humid summer months.
Yuvraj will be playing under Kohli for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and India’s vice captain can have a closer look at both his movement on the field as well as his batting. Since he will not be part of the Test squad, he can work his way back into the 50-overs format. If he can regain his place in the One-Dayers he will be there for the T20s as well.
Another thing that needs clarification is whether Yuvraj will be able to bowl in the ODIs. Since he is no longer a live-wire in the field, he has to make up with his bowling to cement his place. The answers can come from the IPL, which will also throw up new contenders as did the previous editions.
Before the game, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara autographed their photograph, scribbling a prophetic line: “Last World T20, let’s make it count.”
Indeed, they made it count with their batting whereas the Indians couldn’t.