For Yuvraj Singh, cricket doesn't seem so easy anymore

In international T20 cricket, Yuvraj Singh has been a trailblazer. The ability to hit the big shots was something that came easily to him.

Ashish Magotra April 25, 2014 17:26:07 IST
For Yuvraj Singh, cricket doesn't seem so easy anymore

In international T20 cricket, Yuvraj Singh has been a trailblazer. The ability to hit the big shots was something that came easily to him and when in 2007 – he kept clearing his front foot out of the way and smiting Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over – he ensured that the expectations from him would always remain high. It was also the kind of big-hitting that others aspired too – in a sense, he set the standard.

Last night as the Kolkata Knight Riders beat the Royal Challengers Bangalore by two runs in a thriller – one couldn’t help but wonder where that Yuvraj has disappeared to. He almost seems nervous in the middle – uncomfortable with responsibility, unsure of himself.

Chris Lynn took a fantastic catch to stop what looked like the winning six and send back AB de Villiers. But did the match even need to go into the last over?

After the match, Virat Kohli said: “We lost that game rather than KKR winning that one. We played some really good cricket to restrict them to a total, built partnerships, but messed up the game in the last few overs.”

For Yuvraj Singh cricket doesnt seem so easy anymore

Yuvraj Singh of the Royal Challengers Bangalore bats against the Kolkata Knight Riders. BCCI

And at the head of this mess-up was Yuvraj. The left-hander who didn't have the greatest of tournaments during the recent World T20 -- batted for 34 balls, scored 31 runs, hit two fours and one spectacular six.

Twenty20 cricket is often about the big hits but the vital singles that allow the big-hitters to retain the strike are just as important to the overall flow of the game and it is in that aspect that Yuvraj seemed to struggle the most.

His timing was off but he was also hogging the strike. Off the 34 balls he faced, 18 were dot balls and he managed just 9 singles. So even when he wanted to get off strike, he couldn’t.

In the World T20 final, it was the complete opposite. He scored 11 off 21 balls with 11 singles. Then, he couldn’t get the big hits when the team needed him too.

He did get a fifty in the first match of this year’s IPL but what emerges from his recent displays is that he is under immense pressure to come good each time he steps on the field.

After the World T20 final, as criticism for Yuvraj’s innings had mounted – Dhoni had refused to speak about his future with the Indian team.

“Indian cricket season is over, and now we have all domestic tournaments including the Indian Premier League. The next selection is far away so let’s not talk about it.”

But for Yuvraj to even stand a chance of getting into the Indian team – he needs to have an amazing IPL to convince the selectors that he has something left in the tank. The tour of England has never been easy for Yuvraj and if he does get picked, he will need to have runs behind him. And perhaps that pressure is starting to weigh down on him.

“Yuvi hates to bat under pressure or anything,” Yuvraj’s mom had recently said in an interview to RCB’s official website. But there is no way out in T20 – every match is all about pressure.

At some point, Yuvraj needs to make the most of his experience and read the match situation better. It was a ‘hit out or get out’ situation and by staying in the middle, he didn’t help matters.

RCB have paid a ton of money for Yuvraj but they paid money for a confident Yuvraj, a destroyer of attacks. The fizzled out shadow that we see in the middle instead simply isn’t a patch on the original.

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