To his credit, Yuvraj Singh has seen motes of light in darkness. The demon of self-doubt, the biggest scourge of them all, has not consumed him.
His compelling all-round display against Ireland on Sunday was as much about belief as ability. Yuvraj's career has been stormy for most part yet there was a sense of calm about him in the middle that reflected growing maturity.
Highs and lows
The 29-year-old's career has veered between dizzy highs and heart-breaking lows but he has managed to retain his equanimity. And he has done so the hard way.
Yuvraj's form was dipping, he had put on weight and his colourful personal life came under increasing scrutiny. Clearly, he was going through a period that tested his resolve.
Fortunately, the explosive batsman did not implode. Although, he will never quite be the same athlete that he was when he broke into international cricket in 2000, Yuvraj has come back, fitter, sharper and stronger.
No player had achieved the feat of claiming five wickets and scoring a half-century in the same match of the World Cup before Yuvraj came up with the double act against Ireland at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The responsibility and the partnership building attributes he displayed coming in at No. 5 — the game was in the balance — was heartening. The left-hander's controlled strokes in front of the wicket soothed one's senses.
Truth to tell, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni deserves credit for promoting Yuvraj to No. 4 in the order against England. Yuvraj is a confidence player and a captain has a crucial role in nursing him.
Yuvraj responded with a stroke-filled 58 and the switch in the order had worked. The situation was different and Yuvraj was back at the No. 5 slot against Ireland, but, by now, he had found momentum.
A natural galloping on his skills, he also has the numbers to back him. Yuvraj has 7797 runs in 268 ODIs at 36.95 with 12 hundreds and a strike rate of 87.63.
In the World Cup, he has notched up 484 runs in 17 matches at 44.00 (strike rate 92.72). A hundred in the premier ODI competition has proved elusive though.
And Yuvraj's evolving left-arm spin lends balance and relief to the Indian attack where the specialist spinners have not yet pulled their weight.
He is becoming an increasing prominent figure in the Indian attack. Yuvraj has 99 wickets in the ODIs at 33.40 at an Economy Rate of 5.04.
Along the way, he has comprehended the virtues of varying his pace and trajectory. Adding another dimension has enhanced Yuvraj's value.
India will need Yuvraj to both construct and fire in the more important games ahead where the pressures could be of the more pronounced kind. The man who plays his cricket with much passion will have to retain his levels of intensity.
Keywords: 2011 cricket world cup