Mumbai: India's hero during the 2011 World Cup, Yuvraj Singh, announced retirement from all forms of cricket on Monday after spending 25 years in and around the 22 yards and almost 17 years of international experience.
The Chandigarh-born cricketer captured the imagination of world cricket with his gravity-defying fielding abilities and effortless power-hitting. "Only if I could articulate what Cricket has done for me, to me! But let me tell you this, cricket has given me everything I have and it is the reason why I sit here today," said Yuvraj, whose on-field exploits defined India's last two World Cup triumphs.
A career that spanned over 304 ODIs, 58 T20Is and 40 Tests, Yuvraj imprinted his place in the echelons of cricket as a player who could pretty much win matches for his side either through his electric fielding, deceiving bowling or fierce batting. Big events brought out the best in him - be it his international cricket entry at 2000 ICC Champions Trophy, the mind-numbing batting exhibition at inaugural 2007 World Twenty20 or the all-round performance at 2011 World Cup.
His teenage entry in international cricket surely was an indication of things to come. In his second ODI ever, Yuvraj took on the Australian fast bowlers in an exhibition of fearless batting at Nairobi during the 2000 ICC Champions Trophy, also earning him the Man of the Match award. It took three years before he could score his first ODI century, and also earn his Test cap.
In Test match cricket, Yuvraj had an affinity for Pakistan, scoring all his three centuries against them - first on a green top in Lahore in 2004, second in Karachi in 2006 and third, his best of 169 in Bengaluru. His exploits at World T20 in South Africa have remained untouched till date. Yuvraj's willow-wielding ways gave nightmares to almost every bowler through the tournament.
Clobbering six sixes in the penultimate over bowled by Englishman Stuart Broad in Kingsmead was a moment not many cricket fans will forget. That performance against England took Yuvraj on top of the pile of fastest fifties in a T20I match, scoring 50 in just 12 balls, a record that still stands the test of time.
As time passed, Yuvraj became an established middle-order lynchpin for the Indian team and a man with a golden arm too. A testimony of his accomplished all-round abilities was the 2011 World Cup where Yuvraj became the first all-rounder to score over 300 runs and scalp 15 wickets in a single World Cup. The feat included four Man of the Match awards and Man of the Tournament for the 362 runs and 15 wickets.
"Winning the 2011 World Cup, being the man of the series, four Man of the Match awards was all like a dream, which was followed with a harsh reality of getting diagnosed with cancer. All this happened so quickly and that too when I was at the peak of my career. I can't possibly explain the support of my family and friends who stood by me, like my pillars of strength and courage. The BCCI and BCCI president at that time N Srinivasan too supported me during my treatment," reminisced Yuvraj.
A fighter to the core, Yuvraj battled all odds to return to the cricket field after successfully treating the rare germ cell tumour. An appearance at the 2014 T20 World Cup finals looked like a perfect script until Yuvraj found the going tough.
"This was probably the most difficult time in my cricket career, the 2014 T20 World Cup final against Sri Lanka when I laboured to 11 off 21 balls. It was so shattering that I felt my career was all but over, everyone wrote me off too... But I never stopped believing in myself," remarked Yuvraj.
"Thank you this has been a lovely journey. See you on the other side," he said, adding that he would continue devoting his time to assisting cancer patients through his 'YouWeCan' foundation.
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