The 2011 World Cup win was one of the greatest moments in India’s independent history. A group of talented individuals came together and lived up to the expectations of a billion Indians creating frenzy and mania through the length and breadth of the country. There were many heroes throughout the tournament for India but the one who captured the hearts and minds like none other and produced one high impact performance after the other was their swashbuckling left-hander and superstar – Yuvraj Singh.
Yuvraj had a poor series in South Africa prior to the World Cup where he registered a failure in four of the five matches. But Cometh the Hour, Cometh The Man! He raised his game to a level not often reached or scaled by many in major world tournaments and took India to the pinnacle of glory.
Batting at number 4, he smashed 58 off just 50 deliveries and added two successive fifty partnerships for India in the middle order – one each with Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni. He had taken the total to beyond 300 before he was dismissed in the 46th over. Yuvraj followed that with a match-winning performance against Ireland where he rescued India from a precarious 87 for 3, which had worsened to 100 for 4, and helped the team chase down 208 in 46 overs remaining unbeaten on 50 off 75 deliveries. Yuvraj hit just three boundaries in the innings and played the situation placing the ball in the gaps, picking the quick singles and converting the ones into twos – he did not want to take any unwarranted risks showing maturity and responsibility.
Yuvraj returned with his second consecutive Player of the Match performance – this time against the Netherlands in Delhi. He got two big wickets including the one of Ryan ten Doeschate and once again resurrected the Indian innings from 99 for 4 to take them to the target of 190 in the 37th over. He was undefeated on 51 off 73 deliveries.
His highest impact batting performance came against the West Indies in Chennai. India were again in early trouble having lost their openers Tendulkar and Gambhir within the first 10 overs when Yuvraj joined Virat Kohli at the crease. The pair added a match-changing 122 for the third-wicket. Yuvraj went on to record a magnificent 113 off 123 deliveries taking India to a competitive 268. He chipped in with two wickets including the dangerous Russell as the home team registered a comprehensive 80-run victory.
The knockouts saw another quality in the all-rounder – his big-match temperament and ability to raise his game in the matches that mattered the most. Yuvraj got two huge wickets in the middle overs in the Quarter-Final against Australia – he saw the back of Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke not letting Australia build on the early momentum. He was also India’s most economical bowler in the match giving away just 44 runs in his 10 overs. Yuvraj – the bowler had delivered and now it was time for the batsman to make it count. Coming out to bat at 143 for 3 in the 29th over, which became slightly tricky at 168 for 4 and then 187 for 5, Yuvraj once again shouldered responsibility and carried India through with an unbeaten 57 off 65 deliveries.
Yuvraj – the man with the golden arm in the World Cup – broke two partnerships at critical junctures in the final. He got rid of Sri Lanka’s best batsman – Kumar Sangakkara – ending a threatening 62-run third-wicket stand between him and Mahela Jayawardene before returning to trap Thilan Samaraweera just when Sri Lanka looked set to go for the kill at the death.
Yuvraj displayed this knack of picking wickets of big opposition batsmen at crucial stages in the match throughout the tournament. He had bagged the wickets of Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan in successive overs in the semi-final changing the match on its head. Pakistan were in control at 103 for 2 in the 24th over and the sudden double blow, against the run of play, completely derailed their chase and put India in the ascendancy for the remainder of the match.
He also scored tough runs under pressure at crucial junctures for India throughout the tournament. Yuvraj had an aggregate of 362 runs in 8 innings at a strike rate of 86.19 in the tournament. Coupled with this was his phenomenal consistency (one hundred and four fifties) and thus he was by far the highest impact player of the World Cup leading his country to their second title.
He also bagged 15 wickets and was India’s second-highest wicket-taker behind Zaheer Khan.
Interestingly, his Bowling Impact was almost as high as his Batting Impact in the World Cup!
10 years to that great day when Yuvraj Singh’s brilliant all-around show had taken the country to a historic win in the most prestigious trophy in sport in India.