Yuvraj Singh last played a One-Day International (ODI) in December 2013 and is now set to make a comeback in the format. This isn’t the first time he has returned to the Indian side. In the past, he has marked such comebacks with a few memorable performances. The Ring Side View picks five memorable instances of Yuvraj’s comebacks:
The return after cancer – India vs New Zealand, 2nd T20 International at Chennai, 2012
Yuvraj was the country’s hero after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 victory. However, his health deteriorated in the months that followed and in early 2012 he confirmed that he was battling the dreaded disease. He underwent the painful treatment and returned to India to resume his dream. Despite not playing a game, he was named in the Indian team ahead of the World T20 2012. His intended comeback against New Zealand at Visakhapatnam was washed out and he returned for the second game at Chennai. Thanks to Brendon McCullum’s 91, New Zealand scored 167 for five. India were in the hunt with Virat Kohli’s aggressive 70. Yuvraj then kept them in the game in a 26-ball 34 that saw him roll back time with two sixes. New Zealand pulled things back with the game going into the final over. With six needed off three Yuvraj was bowled by James Franklin. India went on to lose that game by a run but Yuvraj had made a statement with that performance.
The comeback blitz – 77 not out off 35 balls vs Australia, Only T20 International at Rajkot, 2013
Despite an admirable comeback in T20 cricket post cancer, Yuvraj couldn’t maintain his high standards in ODIs and was axed before the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. He then headed to France to regain fitness under the tutelage of trainer Tim Exeter. Yuvraj returned fitter and did well for India A. That helped him get selected for the series against Australia, with the first game being a T20I at Rajkot. Chasing 202 to win, Yuvraj walked in with India at 80 for three in the ninth over. What followed was carnage as the southpaw smashed 77 off 35 balls, taking India to a comfortable win. It didn’t look as if he was away! And, that comeback was on the day Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement.
The last Test century – 169 vs Pakistan, 3rd Test at Bangalore, 2007
The last of Yuvraj’s three Test centuries came in tricky circumstances. He hadn’t played a Test in over a year and injuries to Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni meant that Yuvraj was ushered in for the third Test against Pakistan at Bangalore. On the first morning, India were reduced to 61 for four when Yuvraj joined Ganguly. In tandem, the two southpaws put an attractive exhibition of strokeplay. Yuvraj was severe on most bowlers and raced away to his century. By the time he was dismissed, India were 361. Yuvraj had scored 169 off only 203 balls to spark India’s revival. That set the platform for Ganguly to score his maiden Test double with India nearly winning that game on Day Five. India and Pakistan haven’t played a Test since.
The match-winning cameo – 15 not out off 12 balls vs Australia, 3rd T20 International at Sydney, 2016
Yuvraj cut a sorry figure during the ICC World T20 2014 final against Sri Lanka and was predictably axed. He kept toiling in domestic cricket despite the snub for the 2015 World Cup. Late in the year, his performances had convinced selectors to name him in the T20I side for the Australia tour. India’s batting dominance in the first two matches meant that he didn’t get a hit there, although he bowled and bagged a wicket. In the third game, things got tight with India chasing 198. He walked in at 147 for three in the 15th over with Suresh Raina in the middle. While Raina kept finding the boundary, Yuvraj struggled! India needed 17 off the last over with Yuvraj on strike on five off nine deliveries. Andrew Tye ran in and Yuvraj flicked the first one over fine-leg for a four and then followed it up with a six over mid-wicket. Raina then successfully finished the game off the last ball.
The birth of the Yuvraj-Kaif partnership – 80 not out vs Zimbabwe, 4th ODI at Hyderabad, 2002
Yuvraj impressed when he first emerged in 2000 but he found himself out of the ODI side a year down the line. He was recalled for the fourth ODI against Zimbabwe at Hyderabad in March 2002. Zimbabwe were leading the series 2-1 and put India under pressure as the hosts chased 244. At 131 for four in the 32nd over, the game was well poised when Yuvraj walked in to join Mohammad Kaif. Yuvraj then blazed his way to an unbeaten 80 off 60 balls that sealed the deal. Kaif stayed calm during a resolute 68, before falling on the cusp of victory. This knock was Yuvraj’s second coming as he cemented his place in the one-day side in the years to come. And, it was also the first time he batted with Kaif at the highest level — a partnership that went on to script a greater memory a few months down the line.