Most sportsmen see ups and downs in quick succession. Yuvraj Singh is no exception. In this case the low was quickly followed by a high, and the low was quickly forgotten. We take up the story in 2007, meeting his adversaries along the way.
We begin on September 5, 2007 when India faced England in the 6th of 7 ODIs (yawn!) Going into this match, England led 3-2 with 2 to go.
England batted steadily and reached 286/6 at the end of 49 overs. For some reason captain Dravid chose to have Yuvraj bowl the last over. He had taken 0-29 off 4 overs prior to this. The 48th over had been bowled by Tendulkar for 12 runs.
Dimitri Mascarenhas, whose name is largely forgotten now, faced the first ball. He had one of the weirdest-sounding life histories of any international cricketer. He was born in England to Sri Lankan parents, spent most of his life in Australia but did end up playing for England in ODIs and T20Is and was usually regarded as an useful bits-and-pieces player. Then he had a Russian-sounding first name (don’t ask why) and a Portuguese-sounding surname (though in Sri Lanka and India, a Portuguese-sounding surname does not necessarily mean European ancestry). Finally, he was born in the same obscure suburb of London as this writer, though a generation later.
Commentary for the 50th over:
The final scorecard : http://www.espncricinfo.com/engvind/engine/match/258476.html
And the current list of most expensive ODI overs:
As you can see, the Sachin and Saurav show got going, Yuvraj scored 18 and was one of Dimitri’s two wickets, and India finally won to tie the series 3-3. Ultimately they lost 4-3.
Later that month, India was in South Africa playing the first World Championship. Nothing much was expected from this team as they were the least experienced, having played precisely one T20I till them.They had won that match against SA less than a year earlier. And the IPL was not even a gleam in somebody’s eye.
Along the way, they ran into England again at Durban on September 19, exactly 2 weeks after the match mentioned earlier. This was a second stage match, with England already eliminated and India still in the running but without great expectations. Both Yuvraj and Dimitri were playing. The latter bowled one over for 15 runs. We now take up the start of Yuvraj’s innings:
Now for the 19th over by Stuart Broad which passed into history:
And the wrap-up:
As usually happens with some of the Cricinfo commentators, once they hit on an idea for PJs, they keep exploiting it throughout the match. This match’s emphasis on pirates and seafarers may have been inspired by Dimitri’s appearance!
T20I debutant Rohit Sharma did not get to bat, while Joginder Sharma (who remembers him now?) also debuted.
The final scorecard:
India won by 18 runs, so we can see how critical Yuvraj’s innings was. Dimitri was there at the close, but only faced one ball.
Also see the records: Most runs off an over, where Yuvraj’s record still stands:
He also still holds the record for the fastest T20I fifty:
The rest is history, where Misbah, Joginder and Sreesanth were there at the climax.
Many things were still in store for Yuvraj: man of the tournament in WC 2011, cancer and prolonged treatment and a brave but not too successful comeback. But September 2007 had more than enough ups and downs for him.
Meanwhile, Dimitri faded away after 2009 and Broad continues to open the bowling for England.
An afterthought: You would have heard of Malcolm Nash who conceded six sixes in an over in a FC match with Gary Sobers batting against him. Some years later he scored a century in another FC match. An Indian newspaper had this small headline on the sports page: “A bowler, once humiliated, shows how to bat”.