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For Dhoni, age has different connotations

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By Veturi Srivatsa

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, from time to time, sends across messages to national selectors, his own teammates and to fans through a prying media.

Ever since he quit Test cricket, the one question he is frequently confronted is when will he be quitting the other two formats. After the World Cup, he was asked again about his retirement plans. His answer was a crisp one liner:

“I am 33, I’m still running and I am still fit, next year (at the World T20) will be the right time to decide if I should play World Cup 2019.”

For good measure, like all sportspersons, he says he plays for the enjoyment of the game and the day he decides to go, “I will pack my bags and happily go away”.

After Mustafizur Rahman damaged Dhoni’s and India team’s reputation with back-to-back fifers, the question of his retirement cropped up again and this time he turned melodramatic, stating that by removing him the team was expected to do well and if he was the reason for the down slide of Indian cricket he would step down.

“I was never really in line to become a captain. It was a job or responsibility for me. I have taken that responsibility. If they want to take it away, I am happy to give it away.”

Then came the ODI series in Australia and India lost 1-4 despite scoring 300-plus scores in four of the five matches and 295 in the other, but the T20 sweep gave him a new life and the team suddenly looked world-beaters. Their potential to win the T20 World Cup can be seen from the way Dhoni moulded a team with some outstanding fielders.

So, the upcoming World T20 is more important to him than, perhaps, the team. If India win, he might say he would like to take one match at a time, one series after another for the next three years!

Dhoni is not one to miss out on a trick. He quickly decided to quit Test cricket midway through a series in Australia, as he had hinted a year ago about giving up one of the three punishing formats. After seeing Virat Kohli’s imaginative and aggressive captaincy in Tests down under, people did not see beyond the World Cup.

The World Cup revived Dhoni’s fortunes. His team remained unbeaten till they lost to Australia in the semi-finals. They bowled out all their seven opponents till their exit game to set a record.

There was another hiccup when India lost the ODI series in Bangladesh for the first time last year and soon after South Africa got the better of Dhoni’s side here at home. There was another round of Dhoni bashing. The selectors, however, backed him and made sure there were no other media plants about him being replaced by announcing that he would remain captain till the T20 World Cup.

He has a knack of speaking his mind out and his messages are taken seriously, too, by one and all. He is accused of getting rid of seniors, barring Sachin Tendulkar, from the team — first as One-Day captain and then from the Test squad. Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman felt aggrieved at the way the message was sent across.

The much-maligned Greg Chappell noticed a spark in Dhoni and marked him down as a future captain one year before he actually took over as captain of the shorter formats and he went on to win the inaugural T20.

Five months after winning the T20 championship in South Africa, Dhoni’s next move was to weed out seniors from the ODI side, though a couple of them returned to the side briefly before bowing out.

After winning his first major title he said he would prefer daring players willing to stand in front of a moving truck. After winning the Commonwealth Bank ODI series, his tone was a little more assertive. He said he was pretty clear about the players he wanted in the squad, a statement even Ganguly did not make publicly. He was roundly criticised as selectoral deliberations were leaked, making him out a villain.

He told the youngsters he had fought for then that they must perform to vindicate his belief in them. After winning the series, he rubbed it in, asking the media why the team selection was no longer an issue, wondering what would have happened if they had not won!

If Dhoni thought Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly would be liabilities in the Twenty20 field, he now finds age is only a number when it came to Ashish Nehra, 36, Harbhajan Singh, 35, and Yuvraj Singh, who at 34 is as old as Dhoni himself, as key figures in his scheme of things for the World T20 in India next month.

For pundits, at one point of time Dhoni was a cool, thinking captain and after defeats in a couple of series overseas he was a mere mannequin in an unmarketable garment superstore.

Dhoni is not the first captain to be sacked by media or former players and will not be the last. The board and the selectors backed captains for strange reasons, but now on the selection committee will be the sole authority as the president may not have the power to overrule it. (IANS)

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9 Best Innings by Yuvraj Singh in One-day Cricket

The all-round Punjabi cricketer who made through everything from cancer to full-pressure innings

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The cricketer survives through cancer and came back shining. Wikimedia commons
  • Yuvraj hit 6 sixes off 6 balls in a match with England.
  • He was the Man of the series in an ODI series against Pakistan in 2006.
  • The cricketer has fought and survived cancer.

Yuvraj Singh, a cricketer who plays all forms of the game. He is an all-rounder, left-handed batsman, and slow left-arm orthodox bowler. The cricketer was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in 2011 in his left lung, he underwent a chemotherapy. After a break of almost a year, he made his international comeback in a Twenty20 match in September 2012.

He was many achievements to his name including that of Padma Shri Award and Arjuna Award. The Test of My Life: From Cricket to Cancer and Back is his autobiography.

Also Read: Cricket- A Fair Game or Farce!

Here are 9 best inning by Yuvraj Singh in One-day Cricket:

1. 139 vs Australia

He was playing the seventh match of VB series in Sydney on 22nd January 2004. In one of his finest efforts, he scored a 139 against Australia. Though India lost the match, but Yuvraj Singh did prove that he possessed match-winning capabilities.

2. 107 vs Pakistan

It was a five-match ODI series against Pakistan in March 2006. India’s target was 286, which was quite competitive as Pakistan was playing for pride. However, Yuvraj Singh along with M.S. Dhoni led India to an easy victory. India won the series by 4 to 1. Yuvraj had an unbeaten score of 107 off 93 balls. He was named Man of the Match and also Man of the series.

The Punjabi player slayed England when he shot 6 sixes of an over. Wikimedia commons
The Punjabi player slew England when he shot 6 sixes off an over. Wikimedia Commons

3. 103 vs South Africa

Another five-match ODI series, this time with South Africa in 2005. Though India lost this match by 5 wickets, Yuvraj Singh had scored 103 off 122 balls, it included 10 boundaries, out which 3 were sixes. He scored this century when the top batting order had failed. Singh had scored three centuries in that series, all three under pressure.

4. 110 vs West Indies

He was the playing in the sixth match of the Indian Oil Cup in Colombo on 7th August 2005. Yuvraj Singh is remembered for this match due to his angry gestures and annoyance at coach Greg Chappell’s criticism of his batting. He had steadied the score to 262 with 110 after the top order failed. India won the match by 7 runs.

5. 118 and 4/28 vs England

He picked four important wickets in this match, which included Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen. On 17th November 2008, it was the second ODI between India and England at Indore. He contribution was 118 to a 292 total score. India won the match by 54 runs.

Yuvraj Singh plays all forms of Cricket, he is an all-rounder. Wikimedia commons
Yuvraj Singh plays all forms of Cricket, he is an all-rounder. Wikimedia Commons

6. 58 vs England

This was the grand record-making match. It was in this match that Yuvraj hit 6 sixes off 6 balls. He scored 58 runs off 16 balls during the Super Eights match between England and Indian during ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Championship. India had won the game by 18 runs.

Also read: Has Cricket affected India positively or Negatively?

7. 70 vs Australia

Semi Final match between India and Australia of the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup. In this match, the hits flowed off his bat in torrents and piloted India to a magnificent 188 in 20 overs. Yuvraj underlined his importance with a catch which sent back the dangerous Mike Hussey. India won the match by 15 runs.

8. 2/44 and 57 vs Australia

This was Ricky Ponting’s last match. The quarter-final match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 between India and Australia. He guided his team to a competitive total of 260. But Yuvraj foiled his plans with an all-around performance. He sent Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke to the pavilion and also scored a vital half-century which resulted in India’s unforgettable win.

The Test of My Life is Yuvraj Singh's autobiography. Wikimedia commons
The Test of My Life is Yuvraj Singh’s autobiography. Wikimedia Commons

9. 69 vs England

This was a time when India had consequently lost 9 one-day finals. England gave a heavy target of 326. India lost 5 wickets after the 1 wicket got off. When Tendulkar fell, many switched off their televisions as he went back to pavilion. However, there were two men still standing on the crease. Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif made a marvellous partnership that led to India winning the match. This was the match in after which Saurav Ganguly took off his shirt at Lord’s.