“They asked him to guard and he stood there strong,
They asked him to hold the sword and he held the weapon without a question asked,
Had they even asked for his life, he would have laid himself down with a smile,
But they asked him to step aside, and he stood his ground and did not even move an inch “
This is the story of the man who did not think twice before taking the field while yet fighting a life-ending disease, the man who saw his house being pelted with stones by the same people who were ready to shower him with flowers and milk not many years ago, momma’s boy and the most eligible bachelor in the country presently.
While selectors chose to not get emotional and given their verdict as they dropped him from the squad that would travel down-under to defend the world title. It is the same cup which was brought home after 28 long years, the missing feather in our beloved ‘God’s Cap, and the cup in which his all-round performance had brought tears of joy to the entire nation.
It has been a difficult journey for him ever-since, showing sudden sparks here and there of the man waiting to dominate world cricket again, but these sparks remained glimpses alone, never letting the man settle in the team thereafter. We cannot deny that the man got enough time to prove his mettle wherein he ended up playing only 19 of the possible 95 matches post the Wankhede finals owing to various issues, with match fitness and patchy run a major concern.
This article is not going to be about sympathy or about raising questions on his career. Instead, I choose to believe that Yuvi will get yet another chance to romance with his first love at the International Stage and that there is yet hope left.
He arrived at the World Stage in 2000 and was instantly tipped to be a prodigy, with sheer class and charisma. His strength was but to play at will and strike the ball clean and hard. If his antiques with the bat were not enough, he held the spectators’ attention with several jaw dropping moments while fielding at point. An exciting talent and a treat to the eye when in form. But like every sportsman, he had his crests and troughs too and inspite of all his struggle, a consistent test berth remained a dream too.
But he knew where to make the right noise and did not shy away from doing so ever. From an exemplary batting performance in the 2007 T20 World Cup, highlighted by the 6 sixes, to several finishing blows in the ODI’s, often helping the men in blue to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. His contribution with the bat and the ball in WC 2011 needs no description and hardly anyone would differ when I claim that he indeed became the go-to guy for Mahi. Imagine the mental strength he has that he chose to take the pain head-on, not giving a single hint of all that he was going through. People started their guess work while the game against West Indies was on, first signs of pain that he ever showed in public. None the less, he carried on, toiling in the field, smashing the ball out of the park and rolling his fingers to leave the opponent puzzled. Everything that he touched would turn into gold as he continued to live the dream of bringing back the cup with the rest of the nation. A length ball by Kulasekara and the white Kookaburra was sent into the stands by MSD while Yuvi fell to his knees at the non-striker’s end, eyes filled with tears of joy and the vow to bring back the cup home kept.
What followed this wasn’t as exciting but we need to cut him some slack here for he is still a human and hence vulnerable, again not to forget that the man had the guts to look a fatal disease in the eye and force it to retrieve path. He has answered critics time and again, be it with comeback centuries or a quick-fire 50 or a stunning catch. He isn’t an alien to comebacks and he knows not how to give up for he is but a Punjabi lad and they never go down easy.
A clean hitting ability to a terrific back-lift to spinning the opponents out to the ability to finish games, he has it all. All he needs is the hunger to wear the ‘Bleed Blue’ again, and I am sure the ambition yet lives. At the age of 32 and a World Cup berth lost as well, many would be penning his farewell speech, but somewhere out there in the nets, Yuvi is planning a comeback.
With the IPL 2015 right after the World Cup would be a perfect way to begin the marathon of some brilliant performances and to show how match fit he is. Given his vulnerability, god forbid, if he fails here then it won’t be wrong to go back to the drawing board once again and get back to knocking at the selectors door through an exemplary run in the domestic circuit. The big-match lad is a ‘confidence player’ and he shall surely get that post a string of good performances under his belt. Eagerly awaiting to watch his blend of power and timing again. Hold on to your seats for this time the noise that he will make could leave you deaf!!