Yuvraj Singh: a hero who made everyone fall in love with white-ball cricket
NOTTINGHAM: Yuvraj Singh will remain forever as an enigma in Indian cricket, one of the best white-ball players in the country who could never decipher the test code.
The man from Chandigarh will be remembered for giving India two world titles, one while coughing up blood and suffering from a rare germ cell cancer.
However, when he invoked the time in international cricket, one could not help thinking what it could have been if he had finished with 100 tests instead of the 40 he had played.
His batting in full flow was an unadulterated joy, his personality outside the field has always been a matter of curiosity and his power to remain relevant in the best and worst of times makes him a fascinating character.
Lefties are born with grace, but if they are powerful, it gives them that extra advantage. Yuvraj had that.
If the grace of Sourav Ganguly was like enjoying a long trip in a friendly silence, the raw power of Yuvraj was like experiencing a ride on a Hayabusa along the same road.
Both have their own charm that is hard to ignore.
Being the son of an aggressive father, who wanted to fulfill his own unfulfilled dreams, Yuvraj initially lived the dream of Yograj Singh.
From the stable of Desh Pram Azad, Yograj, whose career coincided with that of the great Kapil Dev, could never come to an agreement with his failure as an international cricketer, with only one test match under his belt.
So the failure was probably not an option for Yuvraj, 37, whose favorite skates (he was a champion of age group) found a place in the junkyard.
He had to become a cricketer and he became a very good one.
If Kapil Dev's contribution was massive in 1983, in terms of impact, the more than 300 races and 15 Yuvraj windows had a gold performance during the 2011 World Cup.
He was a man made for big occasions, whether it's the Natwest final at Lord's, the six six's from Stuart Broad in a T20 world match in Durban or the last half-century quarterfinal against Australia in Ahmedabad. Game at the forefront in test situations.
In that Indian lineup, except Virender Sehwag, nobody hit the ball stronger than Yuvraj.
If he had not hit those six sixes, God knows what exactly Lalit Modi would market and how big a Premier League tournament in India would have been.
However, it will remain a mystery why he could not comply with IPL. The teams would empty their coffers to buy it just to leave it high and dry.
Also something would change drastically when I used the white stripes. Self-confidence would be replaced by self-doubt, footwork is not as safe as in colored clothing.
He had a problem with the slow covers against the slow bowlers. I could never really get going against Muttiah Muralitharan.
The technical problems remained, but he was able to develop his game around that and the more than 300 ODI testify to his ability.
It was a shame that Yuvraj could not become the test player he should have been. Part of this was that he was never consistent and, to be fair, he was fighting for a mid-level position with Ganguly in his early days.
He remained confused as to where he belonged. By the time he could have settled on his side, he was fighting in the biggest battle. The battle of life, cancer.
It was like touching the sky and then falling at the speed of light and hitting the ground hard. All this happened very fast, said Yuvraj.
His post-2011 story was a triumph of life rather than achievement in the field of cricket.
Bad health took its toll and it was never the same player. In the 2014 World T20 final on a slow track in Mirpur, his 11 of 21 balls were the main reason for India's defeat against Sri Lanka.
He made those sporadic reappearances, but his fitness levels had been reduced and the 2017 Champions Trophy was where his epitaph was written.
However, Yuvraj was, is and will remain one of the best ODI cricketers in India. His name would always be taken in the same breath as Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev and Virat Kohli. Nobody can take that away from you.