New Delhi: When you see him bat like he did in Bangalore today, it's difficult to see him sitting out of the team. But Yuvraj Singh has fought lot more serious battles than bad form to know what it takes to box out of a corner and deliver the knockout punch.
There was nothing different about him on Sunday, leading India A in an inocuous one-dayer against the visiting West Indies A. A usual languid walk brought him to the middle, followed by a milking approach that slowly filled Yuvraj's bucket with much-needed runs. But none in the scanty crowd at M Chinnaswamy Stadium knew that it will overflow by the end of the Indian innings.
The match was reduced to 42 overs after the wet oufield took 120 minutes to dry. Unmukt Chand fell quickly and was soon followed by opening partner Robin Uthappa, which brought Yuvraj to the wicket, and in Mandeep Singh, the skipper found the perfect ally to get his eye in.
There was no unease or anxiety about Yuvraj's demeanour, even though he took 39 balls to hit his first boundary. A century partnership with Mandeep got him the time he needed in the middle and shored up his half-century in 61 balls. But the shift began from the 30th over onwards, and to reach 104 from 61, Yuvraj took just 14 balls.
The Signature Six
Miguel Cummins had to bowl the first ball of the 30th over thrice. First he bowled a no-ball, followed it up with a wide and when he finally got it right, it went awfully wrong. On the free-hit, Yuvraj rocked back and smacked the length delivery over long on. That got him going.
Nikita Miller began the 35th over in the perfect way - forcing Yuvraj to bring out his best defence out to a quicker, well-pitched delivery. But the next five deliveries met this fate: 6, 4, 6, 6, 1. A handsome pull, a straight hit for four, a smother over wide long-on, another six off a pull and an educated single saw 23 runs coming off that over that put India on its way to 300-plus.
Over number 37.1. Ronsford Beaton runs into a red-hot Yuvraj and bowls it full on off-stump. SIX! Beaton watches it sail over his head and past the sight screen. A century in 80 balls.
Beaton takes a beating
By over number 38, Yuvraj was firmly behind the wheel and driving in top gear. Beaten had the ball in his hand and by the end of the over, heart in his mouth because Yuvraj absolutely tore him apart with two sixes and three fours in six balls.
After the straight six brought up Yuvraj's century, a dot ball followed to ease Windies nerves. But there was no hushing Yuvraj, especially the mood he was in. An attempted slower one was neatly paddled past fine-leg boundary and the next slapped to midwicket for another four. A yorker followed, but was beastly punched off the backfoot over Beaton's head for a six. The final delivery was the poorest of them all. Down leg, it had 'help yourself' written all over it. And Yuvraj didn't miss, directing it to the fence for third four of the over.
It came unexpectedly and at a moment when it seemed Yuvraj could do nothing wrong. Nkrumah Bonner tried the slower variation - outside off, waist height, 'mercy' written over it. Yuvraj could have picked the area to deposit it to, but the mistimed slog landed into long-on's hands.
Yuvraj Singh c Beaton b Bonner 123 (89 balls). Eight fours, seven sixes. Strike rate 138.20. Take a bow!