ICC World T20 2014 Final: Yuvraj Singh's Struggles with the Bat, Depressing and Painful
By Deepak Vikraman | April 7, 2014 1:58 PM EST
While India's loss in the final to Sri Lanka would have sent the majority of the Indian fans into depression, with phones and messages no doubt going to bosses across the world calling in sick, as they look towards that deep dark hole they never want to come out of, there was one aspect which was a little more depressing - Yuvraj Singh's batting.
Watching a batsman, who used to tonk balls beyond the boundary line, and even outside the stadium, for fun, struggle to even get bat on ball for nearly 10 overs, was a little hard to swallow, and something that just made you shake your head and almost writhe in pain.
This is a batsman who made history with six sixes off Stuart Broad, and with it scored the fastest half-century, which is unlikely to be broken anytime soon, in the inaugural World T20 in 2007, which India went on to win.
This is a batsman who was the man of the tournament in the 2011 World Cup, which also saw India holding that trophy aloft, with, ironically, a win over Sri Lanka.
This is a player who when he came in and for several years after, was one of the best fielders in the world, flying around at point, prowling like a tiger waiting for his prey.
However, in this World T20, there was no such Yuvraj, no stunning batting, no part-time wicket-taking bowling, and no athletic fielding -- barring a half-century against Australia, which was also not without its struggles, the southpaw was almost like the Nazgul of the Lord of the Rings, a mere shadow of his actual self - of course, the Nazgul had some wicked powers, which sadly could not be said about Yuvraj.
There were doubts about his inclusion in the World T20 squad, even if it came as no surprise, and those worries only increased when Yuvraj got out in the second ball against Pakistan - India's first game of the 20-over World Cup.
The left-hander then played a 19-ball 10 against the West Indies, taking the game to the final over, and then getting out, when the match should have been signed, sealed and delivered with at least a couple of overs to spare.
Yuvraj did not bat against Bangladesh, and the cracks were papered over a little courtesy a 43-ball 60 against Australia. But those doubts still lingered, and was not vanquished with another iffy innings against South Africa.
But hope remained the left-hander would play a blinder in the final - cometh the hour, cometh the man, after all. However, after coming in during the 11th over, following Rohit Sharma's wicket, Yuvraj fumbled, stumbled, and was sent packing without even a slight rumble - his 21-ball 11, where he failed to score at will, while also starving the immaculate Virat Kohli of the strike, proved to be a major factor in India only making 130.
"The thing is he was trying," India skipper MS Dhoni said when asked about Yuvraj's nightmare innings in the final against Sri Lanka. "That is the most you can do. Pressed on whether the 32-year-old's knock was the main reason for India's travails with the bat, Dhoni refused to put the blame on one particular player. "It's a team thing, let's not talk about individuals," he said.
"I can tell you one thing, you talk about the anger of the fans and all, you know it's always the individual who is more disappointed than the fans. "As a player you go through more because you have your expectations and everything else. Yes, fans get angry but you should also think about the individual.
"Nobody wants to really play bad cricket. In front of 40,000 people you don't really want to drop a catch or make a misfield. It's part and parcel of the game. And we have seen it happen to some of the international athletes, not just cricketers. Let's get rid of it. Yuvi tried his best, it was an off day for him, at the same time it is not easy for a batsman to go out there and start slogging."
One, Yuvraj has had too many of these off days of late, so the struggles were not much of a surprise. And two, Yuvraj did not come in at a time, like Dhoni himself did, when every ball needed to go to the boundary - he came in at the beginning of the second half of the innings, where he had time to get settled, and go slam-bang, or at least attempt to tonk the ball or get out, allowing the likes of Raina and Dhoni some more time in the middle.
Yes, the death bowling from Sri Lanka was tremendous, but Yuvraj could not even connect the ball properly against off-spinner Sachitra Senanayake, who while bowling well, was hardly the kind of bowler you would expect Yuvraj to even struggle taking a single against.
It was one of the great stories, to see Yuvraj, the hero of the World Cup in 2011, make a brilliant comeback from a life-threatening disease; and now it is one of the great tragedies to see one of the most explosive batsmen in recent times, struggle to even lay bat on ball.
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