Yuvraj Singh is an important part of the Indian set up © Getty Images
Yuvraj Singh is an important part of the Indian set up © Getty Images


By Ratnakar Sadasyula


One thing became clear In India‘s labored victory against Ireland on Sunday: The importance of Yuvraj Singh to the team. For most of 2010, Yuvraj’s form was in a freefall mode. The fact that he also had arrogant air about himself raised a lot of questions over his attitude. With players like Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Yusuf Pathan making strong claims, the Crown Prince could not take his place for granted. What kept him in the ODI team, in spite of his failing batting, were his pie chuckers – gentle at best. They often fooled the batsmen into getting out. In that respect, Yuvraj is akin to Sanath Jayasurya, whose seemingly gentle and harmless deliveries often caught batsmen unawares.


In India’s match, against Ireland, Yuvraj scored an unbeaten 50 and guided his team to a victory from a tight 100 for four. His knock is significant for a couple of reasons: Firstly for shedding his natural flamboyance, cutting down on extravagant shots, sweeping sixes and going into a grinding mode – thrusting the ball into gaps, taking singles, waiting for the loose delivery. Secondly, for being there at the finish. That is what Yuvraj’s major role has been in recent times.


Reflect back to 2003 and the World Cup match against Pakistan. The same game in where Sachin Tendulkar scored that brilliant 97, which set India on course to a win. But after Tendulkar fell, it was Yuvraj who guided the team to the winning target. This was a far cry from the times when Tendulkar’s dismissal meant India’s end was in sight.


Reflect back, again, to the 2006 ODI series in Pakistan, where India successfully chased successfully in four consecutive matches to win 4-1. Virender Sehwag sizzled in one match, Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid played some brilliant innings, notably at Lahore, Mahendra Singh Dhoni blasted the bowlers into submission, but the common factor in all the matches was Yuvraj – staying put, rotating the strike, giving support from one end and finishing the match.


He performed a similar role in the 2006 ODI series against England, where he again played a crucial role while chasing down targets. And, of course, nobody can forget that 2002 NatWest final against England, when he and Mohammad Kaif masterminded an epic win by chasing 300+ from a seemingly lost position.


The importance of Yuvraj lies in his role as a finisher, someone who keeps the ship steady and steers it to safety. And whenever India is chasing, Yuvraj’s importance becomes extremely important. One of the reasons why India lost so many close matches in the ’90s, was because of the absence of a finisher. If India had a Yuvraj in that 1999 Chennai Test, Tendulkar’s magnificent century would, in all probability, not have gone waste.


Yuvraj proved his worth in the 2008 Test at Chennai against England, when he played the supporting actor’s role to Tendulkar to pull off a brilliant win.


This is why I feel Yuvraj is an essential part of the Indian team. When he is in form, he not only can guide the team out from tense situations but also take them home. He might have not been in the best of form in recent times, but the big match tournaments are precisely his forte.


(Ratnakar Sadasyula is a software consultant, who is passionate about cricket, movies, music, books, tech & blogging – in no particular order. He has been blogging on movies at Seeti Maar – Diary of a Movie Lover and on life in general at Politically Incorrect. He is also a die hard Quizzer, and has his own quizzing blog at IngloriousKweezerds)