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Out of sight but not out of mind, Yuvraj Singh will always remain special

India Today logo India Today 03-12-2016
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Yuvraj Singh has always managed to grab eyeballs be it with his batting, his fielding or his life off the field. Even now when he's not wearing the blue jersey and not smashing sixes, he has everybody hooked on to the news surrounding his marriage with Bollywood actress Hazel Keech.

The BCCI selectors can ignore him all they want but Yuvraj will still manage to remain the darling of the masses. Crowd puller is the word which perfectly describes him. Yuvraj's connect with the Indian cricket fans remains as strong as when he was a regular in the Indian team.

The connection goes far back. Ever since Yuvraj broke into the Indian ODI team in 2000 he became a player to watch out for, not just for the opposition but for cricket lovers as well. In his debut innings he played a match-winning knock of 84 against Australia at Nairobi which setup a 20-run victory for India. He had class written all over him and he demonstrated it perfectly by smashing the likes of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie all around the Gymkhana Club Ground.

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India got a destructive middle-order batsman in its ranks who became a favourite among the fans thanks to his six-hitting abilities. For the next decade all that was expected of Yuvraj was to hit sixes and win matches for India. He didn't disappoint.

Yuvi could hit sixes at will, owned the backward point position with his lightning quick fielding and got crucial breakthroughs for the team with his left-arm spin. He was a full package and a star was in the making.

Off the field he was famous for his partying habits, his linkups with Bollywood actresses and his sense of humour with which he won many more hearts.

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Then came the year which turned Yuvraj into a global superstar. Senior cricketers Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid decided to skip the inaugural World T20 in 2007 in South Africa which provided an opportunity for the youngsters to shine under rookie skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Nobody expected India to do well in a format which was still in its early stages.

Against all odds India emerged victorious with Yuvraj having created a world record by smashing six sixes in an over in the quarter-final against England at Durban. Yuvi had a heated exchange with Andrew Flintoff which made him very angry and poor Stuart Broad had to bear the brunt of his wrath. The sight of Yuvraj hitting those sixes will always be etched in our memories forever. He then continued in the same vein against Australia and got India to the finals where they beat Pakistan to clinch the maiden T20 World Cup title.

ICC Tournaments seem to be Yuvraj's speciality as he comes into his own in such events. Indian cricket fans who have grown up watching these modern generation of cricketers have remember the day when former captain Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup trophy for the first time on the Lord's balcony in 1983.

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Yuvraj, who was going through a lean phase right before the 2011 World Cup, suddenly lit up the tournament with his batting and bowling. Yuvraj's dream run in the tournament saw him scoring 362 runs in 9 matches at a staggering average of 90.50 with one century and four half-centuries. He also went on to pick 15 wickets in the tournament including two in the final played at the Wankhede as India scripted a famous victory in the summit clash and lifted the World Cup after a gap of 28 years.

What followed right after the World Cup brought the whole country to tears as Yuvraj was diagnosed with cancer of a very rare form. Months of chemotherapy and rehabilitation Yuvraj bounced back in typical fashion and once again we were reduced to tears but this time they were tears of joy as Yuvi returned to the field to a standing ovation from the crowd at Chepauk. Every ball he bowled, every boundary he hit got a thunderous applause from the fans. Yuvi was well and truly back.

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Not even cancer could stop this fighter from Punjab. But sadly it took a very big chunk away from him as he lost his touch soon after. Yuvraj showed flashes of brilliance in the 2014 and 2016 World T20 but just couldn't get back to the form he was in before the diagnosis.

Yuvraj is down but he's certainly not out and is still trying his level best to make a comeback into the Indian team through his performances in the Ranji Trophy. Fans all around the world want to see one last hurrah from the champion, but they will have to wait for now as Yuvraj gets ready to step into a new phase in his life with Hazel Keech.

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