Yuvraj Singh burst onto the scene with his scintillating knock of 84 off 80 balls against Australia in the Champions Trophy (then ICC Knock Out Tournament) in 2000. Having been picked in the squad after his exploits at the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka the same year, Yuvraj took just one innings to display the bundle of talent he possessed.
Australia opted to field under cloudy conditions at the Gymkhana Club Ground in Nairobi. Although Sachin Tendulkar started the innings in an ultra attacking mode, hitting three sixes and an equal number of fours in his run-a-ball 38, India found themselves in a spot of both when Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid departed in the space of seven overs.
The 18-year-old Yuvraj then took charge, playing a series of strokes that would become common as he surged ahead in his career. First came a pull off Ian Harvey, followed by a flick off Damien Fleming. He then lofted Steve Waugh and brought up his half-century with an on-drive played with a high elbow and straight bat off Glenn McGrath. He was although lucky when an outside edge off McGrath flew between the wicketkeeper and first slip very early in his innings, but thereon did not offer any more chances to the Aussies.
Yuvraj first stitched a 40-run stand with Vinod Kambli and then added 66 with Robin Singh. Forty-eight of his 80 runs in that innings came in boundaries, while the rest were the result of lightning quick running between the wickets. It was because his innings that India reached 265 for 9 in their 50 overs.
After driving his side to a challenging total, Yuvraj displayed his agility in the field as well. He first took a good catch to send the dangerous-looking Harvey for 25 and then got the most vital wicket of the Aussie innings, running out their most consistent ODI batsman, Michael Bevan, for 42. The game is also remembered for another Indian making his mark - Zaheer Khan.
Zaheer, who was touted as one of the fastest bowlers India had ever produced before his debut, followed his 3 for 48 against Kenya with 2 for 40 against the Aussies. First he had Adam Gilchrist caught by Ganguly when the destructive batsman seemed to be taking the game away from the Indians with a 23-ball 33, and then cleaned up the Aussie skipper, Steve Waugh, for 23. India went on to win the game by 20 runs and book their spot for the semi-finals, but the match is more remembered for producing two of India's champions cricketers, who made their country proud for many years to come.