Yuvraj Singh impressed on his comeback. (Reuters)
Match Report | Action in Images | All-round worry for India
Chennai: Cricket folklore has it that once, upon being dismissed, WG Grace had reset the stumps and told his opponent: “These people have not come to watch you bowl, they have come to watch me bat.”
On Tuesday, the God of Cricket, if there is any, took it upon himself to ensure that Yuvraj Singh’s return to the game did not fall from grace. Twenty-odd thousand people, and billions on televisions sets, witnessed what the term divine intervention is all about. The atheist may call it luck, but even then, the intensity of the incidents will remain intact.
India lost the T20 International against New Zealand by 1 run. But the Black Caps were not the only winners of the day. Never.
Prior to the evening’s fixture, an anxious Yuvraj had tweeted: “Getting very restless! Just few more hours to go hope it doesn’t rain in the evening!” Despite the gloomy forecasts, it did not rain on Tuesday, thereby allowing Yuvi to shake hands with cricket once again… To say, “Buddy, I’m back.”
Isn’t he a winner then?
Then, during the New Zealand innings, when everyone was wondering how fit Yuvraj is, the man was found here, there and everywhere… He fielded in his favourite zone, at the point region, leaped at the ball with the hunger of a tiger, rolled his arm over to put down two overs with a healthy T20 economy rate of 7.00, and took a catch as well, to dismiss James Franklin.
For a man, who just a few months ago was at the mercy of chemotherapy, isn’t that proof enough of what a remarkable comeback he has achieved?
Isn’t he a winner then?
People wanted to see their icon bat. In this part of the world, where a common man greets the entry of a reel hero with thunderous applause,Yuvraj’s stepping on to the field, with the bat in his gloved hand, on Tuesday, was perhaps the best example of how dramatic and majestic a real hero can be. Applause, again, was the apt welcome from the multitude.
For the sake of poetic justice, it was necessary that Yuvraj played an Yuvraj-like innings for his fans. That dream was almost over when, on a personal score of 9, his attempted pull off Adam Milne took a thick top-edge and flew to fine-leg. It should have been caught, from New Zealand’s point of view. But it shouldn’t have been caught if life had to be a winner. When Brendon McCullum and Kyle Mills collided, the catch was dropped and Yuvraj caught the life he got with both hands.
That was when God played Grace and made Yuvraj the winner, isn’t it?
There was not an iota of hesitancy when Yuvraj played his shots. The four off Milne, or the two sixes off Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram, exhibited the fight in the man and the cricketer in the fight. He made 34 off 26 balls. If you can read beyond the written words, read Yuvraj scored a century on his ‘comeback’.
And why and how did India lose the match? Perhaps, someone above wanted Yuvraj to be the only winner of the day as far as India was concerned. It was his day, and he won it.
Needing 6 runs off the last three balls and with the Dhoni-Yuvraj combo at the crease, the job was easy. But Yuvraj departed and, somehow, India fell short of the 168-run target. Credit to Virat Kohli who played an assuring innings in the lead-up to the World T20. His 41-ball 70 justified his talent.
Earlier, Brendon played an exquisite 55-ball 91-run innings, which helped New Zealand reach 167 for five, in their 20 overs. McCullum hit 11 boundaries and three sixes before he was castled by Irfan Pathan in his urgency.
New Zealand could have made much more from the first ten overs of their innings, had they had a sane opening pair. The combination of Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill looked to be in a ‘Who gets out first’ competition.
It was Brendon and Kane Williamson who ensured that it was not a ‘Gift wickets as you like’ day. The nature of the pitch demanded that one waited for the ball to play the perfect shot. They did exactly that, reaping runs with common sense.
But, rising above the mundane stats, Tuesday night was the night when Yuvraj Singh rose above darkness and, with his spirit, enlightened the fact that in life, one should never give up. But not like Grace of course…