Yuvraj Singh, star of India’s two World Cup triumphs, announced retirement from all forms of cricket on June 10. The left-handed batsman, whose international career spanned across two decades, played 40 Tests, 304 ODIs and 58 T20Is for the Indian cricket team.
Yuvraj made his debut against Kenya way back in 2000 and was part of Indian cricket’s two big moments this century — the triumphs at the 2007 ICC World T20 in South Africa and the 2011 ICC World Cup at home.
Yuvraj, 37, announced his retirement at a press conference in Mumbai. “It was a great rollercoaster ride and beautiful story but it has to come to an end. It was the right time to go,” he said.
“I would say I am extremely lucky to play 400-plus games for India, added Yuvraj. “I would've not imagined doing this when I started my career as a cricket. Through this journey, some matches that remain in my memory are — the 2002 NatWest series final, my first Test hundred in Lahore in 2004, the 2007 Test series in England, of course the six sixes and the 2007 T20 World Cup. And then the most memorable one was the 2011 World Cup final.”
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Yuvraj, came up the ranks through a splendid show for the Indian U-19 side, displaying his penchant for big hitting for the colts. He scored 203 runs in the 2000 World Cup and was adjudged the Player of the tournament. After making it into the senior squad, he caught attention with a 80-ball 84 in just his second ODI, against world champions Australia. Young Yuvraj’s big moment came less than a year into his senior career, at the grandest of cricketing venues, the Lord’s.
In the NatWest series final at Lord's, he hit a 63-ball 69 — a rescue act after the India top order collapsed — to help the side chase down 327. His natural flourish with the bat and a mildly arrogant swag off the pitch, made him quite popular among the fans and performances like the one at Lord’s made him a sensation.
Yuvraj’s Test debut came in 2003. But the long form was not his cup of tea and, after on-and-off stints in the Test squad, he began to focus more on ODIs, and later, the T20s. In one-dayers he amassed 5048 runs at an average of 38 (14 hundreds and 52 fifties). Yuvraj has an enviable career strike-rate of 136.38 in the 58 T20Is he played for India.
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Yuvraj’s legend was sealed when he smashed six sixes in an over — England’s Stuart Broad being the hapless bowler — in the 2007 World T20. His Indian Premier League stats read: 2750 runs at an average of 24.77 in 132 matches. The IPL numbers don’t exactly sound Yuvraj-ish but he was quite a fan favourite despite underwhelming performances (by the lofty standards set by his international career for India). The fact that he fetched Rs. 14 crore and 16 crore in two successive IPL auctions illustrates his brand value.
Yuvraj also played an important role in India’s triumph at the 2011 ODI World Cup at home. He scored 362 runs in the tournament, that included a match-winning performance against Australia in the quarterfinals. He also picked 15 wickets through the course of the World Cup (in ODIs, he finished with 111 wickets) and again was the Player of the Tournament.
Yuvraj’s darkest hour came when he was diagnosed with cancer -- a tumour in the lungs -- soon after the World Cup triumph. The battle and recovery sidelined him, but he soon made a comeback, though it was evident that things were not the same anymore.
After 2013, he was out of the national side. He briefly made a comeback in 2017, during the home series against England. He smashed 150, his highest ODI score, in Cuttack, the knock earning him a spot in the ICC Champions Trophy squad. But his form dipped at the ICC tournament. His last ODI came in the away tour of the West Indies in 2017, right after the Champions Trophy.
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