Yuvraj Singh has had a phenomenal run with both the bat and ball in the World Cup © Getty Images
Yuvraj Singh has had a phenomenal run with both the bat and ball in the World Cup © Getty Images

 

By Vinay Anand

 

India have had an outstanding World Cup so far, and are on the verge of winning the title for the first time since 1983 – this despite the general belief that India does not have a quality world class bowler, apart from Zaheer Khan.

 

Unquestionably, it was India’s poor bowling that was the likely hurdle in the team making the final. But if there is one bowler, apart from Zaheer, who has performed and performed consistently to help India get this far, it has to be Yuvraj Singh.

 

In the past, Yuvraj was known as a batsman who could chip in with a couple of overs. He was a batsman who could fill in when required. His bowling was so circumspect that England’s maverick batsman Kevin Pietersen famously called him a ‘pie-chucker’ in November 2008.

 

In 2010, Yuvraj got injured and lost his form with the bat. That could perhaps have been a blessing in disguise for him as he looked to improve on his bowling to retain a place in the team, as his fielding had also fallen from what it was.

 

India’s search for an all-rounder has been their perennial problem. While Australia had Andrew Symonds, South Africa had Jacques Kallis, England had Andrew Flintoff, India have had none after the downfall of Irfan Pathan. If Yuvraj continues in this vein, India may have found that elusive all-rounder.

 

India has this strange affinity for the 7-4 strategy, but for the one-day game, five bowlers are a must. And Yuvraj’s left-arm spin gives captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni a huge relief as a fifth bowing option. He can pick wickets at regular intervals and can get to turn the ball, which does not allow batsmen to score freely of his bowling. Besides, left-arm spin these days is a rare art, so not many batsmen are adept at playing this kind of bowling. That’s is Yuvraj’s X-factor.

 

Yuvraj has struggled at times when the ball comes on to the bat slowly. He bowls quicker through the air and batsmen, which convert to full tosses or long-hops to smash it around. Like Umar Akmal did in the semi-final.

 

Despite this weakness, Yuvraj has picked 15 wickets in the tournament so far, to go alongside his 341 runs with the bat. It has won him four man-of-the-match awards, the highest-ever in any World Cup by any player.

 

Even before the start of the final, Yuvraj looks the hot favourite to emerge as the Player of the 2011 World Cup.

 

Well done, Yuvi!

 

(Vinay Anand, 17, has an uncanny eye for detail. He revers cricket – looking beyond the glamour into the heart of the game where true passion, perseverance and grit meet. To him, there is no greater joy than coming closer to the sport while exploring its intricacies through his writing and treading ahead to establish himself as a writer and presenter)