Yuvraj has a September to remember
09 Oct 2007
By: Zac Gelman
September 2007 heralded a new era in cricket with the action packed Twenty20 World Championships being unveiled on the world stage.
The critics were unanimous in praise. The format worked, the crowds partied and it was agreed upon by all that it was vastly superior to its dull and dreary cousin, the 2007 ODI World Cup.
One of the predictions before the championships were that batsmen would be able to easily acclimatise, slog huge scores and hit boundaries at will. This wasn't the case as the Australian batsmen soon found out. They had to adapt and change their game plans, something not many were able to do and with good intelligent bowling and energetic fielding, the pressure was put right back on the batsmen and many failed.
Chris Gayle started the tournament with what Tony Cozier described as one of the greatest innings in any format of the game. Well not quite, but it was a dazzling display of a mixture between brute force and sublime stroke play that had the whole crowd on their feet. The dancers and the fireworks were put to the side as Gayle took centre stage with a record knock of 117 in 57 balls. It would have been a safe bet, if one were to predict Gayle to be player of the month come the end of September at the innings break in the Championship opener.
But it was not to be, as Gibbs and Bangladesh rudely deposed the West Indies out of the tournament. Another side that had a massive shock were pre-tournament favourites, Australia, who made headlines after losing to Zimbabwe. However on the back of Matthew Hayden who went on to pile on 265 runs at an average of over 88, they made their way right back into the tournament, once again firm favourites to take the series out, only to be met with the strong resistance of one man, Yuvraj Singh. But more on that later.
Hayden continued his sensational limited-overs comeback story at the Championships. Not in contention for the Australian ODI side for some time, he was given a chance after the Ashes in early 2007 and has never looked back. He has piled on the runs and smashed the record books in typical Hayden fashion ever since.
More doubts were raised whether he would be able to hack it in the shortest format of the game. These people should know better by now. Passing 50 four times in the tournament he dismissed his numerous critics to maintain himself as one of the finest batsmen on the international circuit, in all forms of the game. More runs were to come for Hayden in India, but that's for another time.
That leaves us with Yuvraj Singh. The man who struggled for Test selection in England before outshining all the bigger names in the one-day series. 'Yuvi' as he is affectionately known, started off the month with a match winning 72 off 57 balls in England to get India right back in that series.
The tour ended on a sour note when India weren't able to complete a dream turn around when they failed at the final hurdle and Yuvraj had a match to forget from a bowlers perspective in the sixth ODI when he was hit for five sixes by Dimitri Mascarenhas in the final over of the English innings.
But he was to go one better than Mascarenhas in the Twenty20s however. Against England as well and not off any part time bowling either, Yuvraj added his name to a select group of batsmen, when he hit six sixes off a Stuart Broad over.
The bowling wasn't terrible but the helpless Broad could only sit and watch as Yuvraj hit the ball into to all parts of the Kingsmead crowd. In the context of the tournament this was such an important cameo. 58 runs at a whopping strike rate of over 362, gave India a real chance of making the semi-finals with the score just out of England's reach.
And made it to the semi-finals they did, only to meet the might of Australia in full swing. But the Indians were not fearful, they did not let the reputations of the Australians beat them even before they set out onto the field like so many other sides have been beaten in the past. They stood strong and led by Yuvraj yet again they emerged victorious to secure a place in the final, one they would eventually win to the delight of their ecstatic fans back home and all around the world.
The 30 ball 70 from Yuvraj against the Australians is not to be overlooked. It was without a doubt the knock of the tournament and perhaps the finest Twenty20 innings to date. Under immense pressure with India at 2-41 and the run-rate going nowhere, Yuvraj smacked Clark for six with his second delivery at the crease and never looked back.
One can safely say that India are Twenty20 champions on the back of Yuvraj Singh's brilliant batting at the crunch moments and when his team needed it the most.
Cricket Web's Player of the Month: