When Yuvraj Singh was out caught behind in the first ODI against England in Pune, leaving his side a mountain to climb while chasing a score of 350, it seemed that the sun was about to set on his international career. Considering the form of Virat Kohli, and pressure on KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan to make runs, there was a chance that Yuvraj may not get an opportunity to shine for India and impress the selectors in the two ODIs that remained before the ICC Champions trophy in June.
But with India 25 for 3 in the second ODI in Cuttack, a last chance to revive his international career fell at Yuvraj's feet. For the champion that he is, it was enough. Out came his wide range of shots, the sublime timing and within no time, he had broken his own personal best score in ODIs.
Speaking in the mid-innings break, Yuvraj hailed it as one of his best knocks in the limited overs format.
"Probably, one of my best innings. The last time I got a hundred was the 2011 World Cup. I am very happy with the innings. We were trying to get a partnership. I just wanted to play down the ground and not take much risk. I have been hitting the ball well in the whole domestic season," said Yuvraj during the innings break.
"I had a word with Sanjay Bangar, I told him the way I am hitting the ball I will go big. With the five fielder rule, mid-on, mid-off is up, the wicket was not (helpful) for the seamers after the first 10 overs," he added.
As pointed out by the 35-year-old, it was his first hundred since the group stages of the 2011 World Cup, and one that drew plenty of emotions from the southpaw when the moment finally arrived. Yuvraj couldn't put those into words, but was happy that he worked hard with the belief that he could regain a place in the Indian side.
Emotions are very hard to describe because it’s been a while where I was not able get a hundred on board. I worked very hard over the years, worked on my fitness with my dad and it took me a long time to show that I can still play international cricket," Yuvraj told BCCI.tv after the game.
"It was very important that I proved it to myself because there is very little belief outside. So it was very important to believe in myself," he added.
The left-handed batsmen shared a partnership of over 200 runs with Mahendra Singh Dhoni that eventually propelled India to a match-winning total of 381. Having enjoyed many fruitful collaborations in the past, the duo revived their chemistry in Cuttack. Yuvraj revealed constant conversations between him and Dhoni, helped them plan against the English bowlers. In addition, he also acknowledged the understanding the duo share as a key factor in leading India's revival in Cuttack.
"It was a great partnership, we started slowly, we just knocked the ball around and we knew how we are going to approach the game. My aim was to not to his the ball in the air until we form a steady partnership, Mahi’s aim was more to stay at the crease. We understand our goals really well and it worked for us," Yuvraj told BCCI after the game.
England will be wondering how to stop the Indian juggernaut after scores of 350 and 361 from their batsmen proved insufficient. But with Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni joining the Virat Kohli-led show, the visitors could be pardoned for just adding to the audience.
Updated Date: Jan 20, 2017 16:51:21 IST