When Yuvraj Singh walked out to bat at the fall of the second wicket during Sunrisers Hyderabad’s season opener against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on 5 April, there was a sense of fearlessness in his eyes that could only be associated with the Yuvraj Singh six or seven years back.
The Southpaw’s intimidating stature, confident and fearless attitude, and positive body language that one saw years ago, could be felt once again as he entered the field and took guard.
The innings that followed helped Hyderabad complete an emphatic win over Bangalore and proved that Yuvraj is going nowhere; he is here to stay and will treat us with many more such innings in the coming time ahead.
Such an enigma is Yuvraj Singh that his mere presence on the field with the bat in hand can intimidate the whole opposition.
62 runs scored off just 27 balls is a testimony of how he tormented the bowlers and the fielders alike. That clean swing of the arms with the bat in hand and then watching the ball sail over the ropes for a six, is the sight that his fans longed to witness over the years.
It’s not that he was playing cricket for the first time after a long gap, there were many instances when he played some fine knocks for India after recovering from his battle against cancer. However, the real Yuvraj was missing somewhere in those knocks.
A guy who had always been one of the most confident and clean strikers of the ball in cricket, depended on simply timing the ball and finding the gaps during that period. This continued for a long time; three years, four years, five years and people finally started believing that he is not going to be the same anymore.
Come 19 January 2017, Yuvraj dismantled the English bowling attack with his career-best score of 150 in the second ODI at Cuttack.
Starting off the innings on a rather nervous note, Yuvraj went from strength to strength as his innings progressed. It was that innings that made him believe that his days are not over yet, that he has still got it in him! It was a treat to the fans as well but they were not sure if it was going to be a new beginning or it was just a final spark of the extinguishing fire.
Fast forward three months into the first match of IPL season 10 and there was Yuvraj Singh with a renewed sense of self-belief and self-confidence demolishing the opposition with his willow. And the Southpaw credits his Indian team comeback for his newly found sense of freedom and confidence.
I enjoyed my batting tonight. My batting has been up and down over the couple of years, but I am feeling really good at the moment. The comeback into the Indian team has really helped me. I am more free in my mind and I am not worrying anymore about making a comeback. I am just going to play according to the situation and express myself.
These words simply mean warning for the opposition; a warning that things are not going to be easy for the bowlers and fielders in the upcoming matches when Yuvraj will have the willow in hand.
One should not forget that he was the main architect of India’s title winning campaigns during the 2007 World T20 and the 2011 World Cup. Whatever he touched turned into gold and there is a high chance that things are going to be similar this year for the Sunrisers as well.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad are already the defending champions of the IPL and are a strong team in itself. The only weak link in their team appeared to be their middle order batting and that issue is resolved this year as Yuvraj is in his own prime form.
There is a high chance that the Sunrisers Hyderabad would go on to claim the IPL trophy once again this year. Even if they don’t, one thing is for sure! This is going to be Yuvraj’s IPL and he may end up as one of the highest run-getters as well at the end of the tournament.
(This Opinion Piece first appeared in The Quint on April 12,2017)