By: Chinmay Vaidya
"After 25 years in cricket I've decided to move on. Cricket has given me everything I have. Thank you for being a part of this journey” - Yuvraj Singh (via BCCI)
Singh officially announced his retirement from international cricket, finishing his impressive career as an all-rounder with 8,701 ODI runs and 111 ODI wickets. His aggressive batting style embodied his resiliency in a historic career, one that will cement him as a top-10 all-rounder in the history of the game.
He struggled early in his international career, showcasing his inconsistency at the 2003 World Cup. His subsequent seasons were marred by the same swings in form, a product of his batting style. Singh was an effective bowler as a part-time spin option, but didn't make a tremendous impact in that area either. Despite these struggles, Singh was a regular member of India's playing XI. He finished his career with 304 one-day matches.
In the 2007 World Cup, the entire Indian team face-planted out of the group stage. Singh had his share of issues as well. He redeemed himself at the 2007 T20 World Cup, the inaugural competition in that format. And that's where he had his first memorable moment.
In his demolition, Singh made the fastest 50 in T20 cricket history. It was also the fastest in any form of the game and it's a record that still stands today.
Despite India's win at the 2007 World T20, Singh again faced fitness issues and was on the fence for the squad. He was in and out of the team over the next several years, most notably being dropped from the 2010 Asia Cup after the 2010 World T20. These questions about his form and fitness forced Singh to once again prove the naysayers wrong and he did so in absolutely sublime fashion.
The 2011 World Cup was extremely important for India. It was the last World Cup for the country's "golden generation" with prominent players like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan unlikely to play in a World Cup again. Newcomers like Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina were determined to etch their names in history. After a disastrous 2007 campaign, MS Dhoni was looking to prove his mettle as a captain. Singh was selected in the side, but it was unsure how much he would play.
The left-handed all-rounder put together arguably the greatest stretch of cricket in a World Cup, tallying 362 runs and picking up 15 wickets to lead India to the title. He scored a century and four half-centuries and became the first player in history to score a half-century and pick up five wickets in the same match. Singh won four Man of the Match awards and eventually was named Player of the Series. His run in the knockout stage in particular burnished his legacy as an all-time Indian great.
Singh took two wickets and scored an unbeaten 57 to dispatch Australia in the quarterfinal. His final boundary shot and the emotion that followed will forever be in the minds of cricket fans across the world. For the first time since 1992, Australia wouldn't be playing in a World Cup final. Singh had slayed the giant.
Against Pakistan, Singh got out on the first ball in what wound up being a tense match. However, he made contributions in the second inning with two key wickets and a catch. In the final, Singh again took two important wickets to help India limit Sri Lanka to 274. His unbeaten 21 as part of the winning partnership capped off his thunderous comeback on the international stage and India's championship.
Perhaps Singh's greatest comeback came off the cricket field. He was diagnosed with cancer in his lung shortly after the World Cup and there were serious questions whether he would ever step on a cricket field again. However, Singh beat cancer and returned in time for India's 2012 World T20. He continued to showcase his brilliance in the international and domestic arena, but wasn't able to make the 2015 World Cup squad. His 2017 Champions Trophy knock against Pakistan in the group stage was his swan song. 53 runs in 32 balls to push India past 300 in a rivalry game. It was a classic Yuvraj Singh innings at the perfect moment.
"I have never stopped believing in myself...always believe in yourself" - Yuvraj Singh (via BCCI)
Remember him for his brilliance. Remember him for his all-around skill. Remember him for his 2011 World Cup. But most importantly, remember him for his resiliency. Yuvraj Singh never quit, even when everything seemed to be going against him. He rose to the occasion every single time and his playing style embodied his journey. He's an all-time great and an Indian cricket legend. Yuvraj Singh's legacy has been cemented.