It was not quite the shot heard round the world, but within the Indian dugout, Yuvraj Singh’s first six off James Muirhead made a loud report. There was lustier-than-usual applause and there were broad smiles; clearly, to teammates, the hit was worth more than its numerical value.
It indicated their eagerness for him to succeed; beyond a point, these things can even be construed as patronising. But on Sunday night at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, the only feeling was one of quiet satisfaction.
Till he struck that six, Yuvraj had looked largely uneasy, with the ghost of the West Indies game — when he had retreated so far into a shell of his own making that the one run needed was made to look onerous — looming. But at that point, the levee burst. The following delivery was also struck for six, and the cheer spread. Yuvraj’s first 21 balls had fetched him 13 runs; his next 22 brought 47.
Days earlier, M.S. Dhoni and Rohit Sharma had spoken of Yuvraj needing that one innings to rediscover his touch, which had seemingly deserted him.
“We all know the kind of batsman he is; he can clear any ground in the world,” the captain said later.
All this is not to suggest that Yuvraj will turn into Bradman circa 1930. But Sunday’s effort over Australia will have helped Yuvraj assure himself that all is not wrong, that he still belongs at this level. There is little he needs to prove to his teammates or those on the outside.
“He obviously hadn’t scored any runs in the first couple of games but I’ve seen Yuvraj take us apart at certain times since I was 18,” Shane Watson said afterwards.
“When he is on, Yuvraj hits the ball to all different spots. He gave himself a bit of time to get in and then picked his bowlers to be able to take on. When Yuvraj is taking on the bowlers, it is certainly when he is at his absolute best. And tonight, he hit the ball as clean as anyone in the world, from the quicks and the spinners as well. There’s no doubt it is going to be a huge confidence-builder for the Indian team itself.”
This is Yuvraj’s third ‘comeback’ in the last two years and it has been, in cricket terms alone, his hardest. Finishing the ICC World Twenty20 without one sizeable score against his name will only have filled him with greater doubts. That fear has now been banished.
Towards the end of his innings of 60, Yuvraj was striking the ball as well as he has in recent times. It may have been obvious to Rohit Sharma that this was only a matter of time, but it did not seem his colleague saw it this way himself.
However, Yuvraj may fare in the rest of the tournament, at least any cloud of doubt has been lifted. That cannot be a good thing for rival bowlers.