The Fighter, India's World Cup hero - Yuvraj Singh- turns 37

The Fighter, Indias World Cup hero - Yuvraj Singh- turns 37

The stylish, charismatic and talented former Indian cricket, Yuvraj Singh, turned 37 on Thursday (Dec. 12). After serving the nation for close to two decades, Yuvraj announced retirement from all formats earlier this year in June.

The stylish, charismatic and talented former Indian cricket, Yuvraj Singh, turned 37 on Thursday (Dec. 12). After serving the nation for close to two decades, Yuvraj announced retirement from all formats earlier this year in June.

After playing 402 matches (inclusive of ODIs, T20Is and Tests), Yuvraj bowed out of the game with a total of 11,778 international runs. The NatWest 2002 final, the six sixes at the World T20 2007 and the Player of the Tournament at the 2011 Cricket World Cup, Yuvraj was considered a limited-overs specialist. He was easily the only fitted all-rounder India found after the great Kapil Dev.

Yuvraj did not begin his story. It was his father, Yograj Singh who began to obsess with his son's cricket. Having played just one Test for India, Yograj wanted his son to finish the unfinished business. How Yuvraj's life changed overnight has been a very famous anecdote.

A skating enthusiast, Yuvraj had no clue he would never skate again after winning a gold medal. His father took the medal off his young son's neck and threw it out of the car. "From now on, you are going to play cricket" - that was a bit harsh beginning of a story that would turn out to be legendary for Indian cricket.

At 13, Yuvraj's career kickstarted as he became a part of Punjab's U-13 side. A season later, the left-handed batsman was promoted to the U-19 team. He made his First-Class debut in late 1997 and two years later, he flew to Sri Lanka to participate in the U-19 Cricket World Cup, which India won under the captaincy of Mohammad Kaif. For his all-round performance, Yuvraj earned the Player of the Tournament award and soon broke into the senior national team.

He made his debut against Kenya when India played in the 2000 ICC KnockOut Trophy but he did not get the chance to bat. It was then the quarter-final fixture between India and Australia and that's when he introduced himself in senior men's cricket in style. He produced a crucial knock of 84 off 80 against a pace attack comprising of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie, that helped India win by 20 runs and earned him the Man of the Match.

He struggled for consistency for a while, was on and off the team before he finally became a permanent and vital member of the Indian team. His first major contribution came at the historic 2002 NatWest Series in England. He had mixed Round-Robin rounds before becoming the hero in the final against England at the iconic Lord's Cricket Ground. Batting first, the hosts posted a massive total of 325 for 5 in 50 overs.

In the second innings, the Indian boys saw themselves in major trouble at 146 for 5 at the end of 24 overs and that's when Kaif joined Yuvraj at the crease. The duo first stabilised the innings before going berserk. They put up 121 runs for the sixth wicket before Yuvraj got out for a 63-ball 69. He had done the job as Team India went on to win the game with three balls and two wickets to spare.

When the senior players refused to participate in the inaugural World T20 in 2007, the BCCI chose a new captain in MS Dhoni and made Yuvraj his deputy. In India's Super 8 game against England at Durban, Yuvraj reminded everyone what he was capable of. He hammered six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad as he recorded the fastest fifty ever in a T20 game, off just 12 balls, which was also the fastest in any form of international cricket. When Dhoni was appointed the ODI captain following Rahul Dravid's resignation, Yuvraj was again made the vice-captain.

Yuvraj's best-ever time in cricket came when India co-hosted the Cricket World Cup in 2011. It was a dream run that every cricket craves for. Be it with the ball or bat, whenever India were in trouble, he was there. He scored as many as 362 runs including a century and four fifties and even claimed 15 wickets. When Dhoni hit the winning six at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2, Yuvraj was there on the other end, unbeaten and emotional.

Soon after the dream run at the biggest cricketing tournament, Yuvraj suffered a ridiculous setback in life. He was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor stage-1 in his left lung. In fact, he began to suffer even before the World Cup, which he ended as the player of the tournament, had ended.

The guy was always known to be a fighter and when he desperately needed to be one, Yuvraj did not let himself down. He underwent chemotherapy sessions in Boston and recovered eventually.

The 37-year-old played for India post his illness but never showed glimpses of the old Yuvraj. He was a part of India's World T20 campaign in 2014 where the Men in Blue lost to Sri Lanka in the final. In the meantime, he continued to be in demand in the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he bagged contracts worth over a million dollars in 2014 (Rs 14 crore to RCB), 2015 (Rs 16 crore to Delhi Daredevils) and 2016 (Rs 7 crore to Sunrisers Hyderabad).

He continued to play in domestic cricket and kept knocking doors of the Indian cricket team as he made a few appearances in international cricket in 2016 and 2017 but two years later, he knew it was time to step away.

"I can't put it in words, I will try. After 25 years, and in 22 yards and 17 years of international cricket. I have decided to move on. Cricket has given me everything and it was a love-hate relationship in retrospect.

I can't express in words how that feeling is. I have failed more times than I succeeded, but I gave my blood and sweat when it came to playing for my country. My life has been a roller coaster ride. The next focus is to help cancer patients at youwecan," Yuvraj Singh, one of India's best all-rounders, signed off from international cricket on June 10, 2019.

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