Yuvraj Singh’s greatest innings across an illustrious career, as selected by Aadya Sharma.
In a career spread across two decades, Yuvraj Singh built a strong reputation for being one of the cleanest strikers of the cricket ball, churning out game-changing performances in the middle order.
Despite several setbacks, including a serious illness, his resolve never gave way, as he ended his career as one of India’s all-time limited-overs greats.
While it’s difficult to limit the list to just ten, here we revisit his most memorable innings for India in international cricket.
84 v Australia, Nairobi, ICC knock-out trophy (2000)
Playing his first international innings, a scrawny Yuvraj Singh was greeted to the four-pronged pace attack featuring Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and Shane Lee. The fearless 18-year-old showed the world first glimpses of his now-famed cuts and flicks, racing his way to an 80-ball 84.
His impeccable timing, as well as the crunch in his strokes, found a wider audience, as he partnered Vinod Kambli and then Robin Singh, helping India set up a match-winning total of 265. He later took a diving catch and run out Michael Bevan with a direct hit to showcase his fielding prowess.
69 v England, NatWest series final (2002)
Yuvraj’s young career got a major thrust when he starred alongside Mohammad Kaif in one of India’s most inspiring ODI wins of the decade. The two combined at the fall of Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket, with India still 180 runs adrift of the target of 326.
Yuvraj trusted his aggressive batting instincts, scoring a brisk 69 off just 63 balls, exhibiting remarkable maturity in a nervy chase. He ensured that the run-rate was under grasp, while Kaif kept one end busy, and although he departed with 59 still needed, India managed to pull off an incredulous two-wicket victory.
139 v Australia, Sydney, tri-nation ODI series (2004)
Among the bigger heroes, Yuvraj Singh was the supporting cast in India’s 2003 World Cup campaign, but started to show more authority in a rapidly-changing middle-order soon after.
During the seventh game of the tri-nation series in 2004, VVS Laxman, in the middle of a golden run, found Yuvraj Singh’s company, as they set about facing a challenging Australian attack on a lively Sydney track.
Batting first, Yuvraj refused to let India’s run-rate drop, attacking the middling pace of Ian Harvey and Andrew Symonds, before enabling all thrusters at the death against the pacers, a run-scoring template he followed for the next decade. He completed his second ODI century and finished with a then career-best 139: India had found a fire-eyed finisher.
112 v Pakistan, Lahore, 2nd Test (2004)
It was a packed middle order bustling with illustrious names, but Yuvraj managed to sneak into the Test team too. His 40-Test career might have been underwhelming, but Yuvraj had his moments in whites.
Playing their first bilateral Test series in Pakistan since 1989, India had achieved a historic win at Multan, but found themselves on the mat on the opening day of the second Test, losing their first seven wickets for under 150.
A two-Test old Yuvraj began the rebuilding job with Irfan Pathan, but refused to let go of the accelerator, as he quickly went about displaying his array of strokes, especially against Danish Kaneria’s leg-spin. He completed his maiden Test century, helping the side to a respectable 287.
107* v Pakistan, Karachi, 5th ODI (2006)
In the lead up to the 2007 World Cup, the Greg Chappell era saw the emergence of a strong Indian ODI outfit, and Yuvraj Singh became one of its most dependable batting engines. During that time, the Yuvraj Singh-MS Dhoni duo bulldozed several chases, including a 287-run target against Pakistan in Lahore.
The required run-rate kept creeping up but Yuvraj Singh failed to get bogged down, fluently picking up boundaries at will while targeting spinners. With more than 80 needed off the last 10, Yuvraj and Dhoni assembled a stunning counter-attack. A hamstring issue failed to contain Yuvraj, as his stroke-filled century and Dhoni’s 77 killed the chase inside 47 overs.
138* v England, Rajkot, 1st ODI (2008)
An authoritative Yuvraj Singh diffused England’s touring attack with a rapid, 64-ball century at Rajkot, the then fastest hundred against England in ODIs. Strapped around his stomach, Yuvraj fought back issues to smash 16 fours and six sixes, ending with an unbeaten 138 in India’s 387.
In a remarkable display of power-hitting, Yuvraj treated spinners and pacers with equal disdain, motoring along to his ninth ODI century in his 200th innings.
58 v England, Durban, T20 World Cup (2007)
Yuvraj Singh’s single-most memorable blitz came in the T20 format against England when he launched pacer Stuart Broad for six sixes in a single over. The career-defining onslaught, in a way, galvanised India’s 2007 World T20 campaign, as they went about winning all their matches, including the final at Johannesburg against Pakistan.
It was spectacular power-hitting. Yuvraj raced to his fifty in 12 balls – still the fastest in T20Is – and finished with a strike-rate of 362.50 in India’s total of 218.
70 v Australia, Durban, T20 World Cup (2007)
Right after his blitz against England, Yuvraj Singh unfurled yet another brutal assault, this time against Australia in the semi-finals. Batting at No.3, Yuvraj seemed to continue where he left off against England, striking the ball far and wide with tremendous ease, highlighted best by a mere flick off Brett Lee that flew far into the square-leg stands.
By the time he was done, his 30-ball 70 had powered India to 188, resulting in a comfortable 15-run win.
85* v England, Chennai, 1st Test (2008)
Yuvraj played his part in India’s record-breaking chase of 387 at Chennai, partnering Sachin Tendulkar till the end in a 163-run fifth wicket stand. Yuvraj was nervy to begin with but soon found his confidence with a few neat hits off the spinners, as India battled towards a win on the fifth day.
Alongside a resolute Tendulkar, Yuvraj played out almost two entire sessions, unaffected by the opposition’s verbal taunts or the monumental target. Once he found his rhythm, Yuvraj’s innings started flowing in limited-overs fashion, as he went after the spinners in perhaps his most testing knocks in whites, ending on an unbeaten 85.
57* & 2-44 v Australia, Ahmedabad, World Cup (2011)
The 2011 World Cup was all about Yuvraj Singh. He was the Player of the Tournament who delivered several key performances, including a crucial half-century, under pressure, in the quarter-finals against Australia.
Chasing 261, India stuttered a little in the middle to find themselves at 143-3. The middle order was under fire for its indifferent form, but Yuvraj Singh stood up, absorbing all the pressure of leading a chase in a knockout World Cup game. Wickets kept falling at the other end but a determined Yuvraj, ably assisted at the death by Suresh Raina, ensured that India went through with 14 balls to spare.