If you were a person who grew up watching cricket seriously from the 90s, you would associate a peculiar pattern with Indo-Pak games. As a classic example, the fans would line up for a game with high expectations at Sharjah against archrivals Pakistan, where Pak would pose a formidable 250 to start the great Indian run chase. The Indian chase and the match would effectively end within the first 5-6 overs once Tendulkar falls to Wasim Akram or Aaquib Javeed.
In another scenario, the opponents pose an imposing total of 250+, thanks to Sachin, India remains the chase till the 30th over. Panic then creeps in and the unavoidable Indian batting collapse would ensue spearheaded by the master himself.
The advent of Yuvraj Singh has challenged this stereotype and predictable loop of agonizing so near yet so far Indian run chases. India started winning matches while chasing. It wasn't the Kanitkar Boundary or Rajesh Chauhan Six or other handful of matches we could easily count nor was it the Sachin Tendulkar's overly stretched revenge saga of Henry Olonga anymore.
Earlier, the objective would have been to keep the margin of defeat within acceptable magnitude.
Yuvraj has become the chief architect of modern India's greatest ODI triumphs to the extent that doing the improbable was constantly becoming a norm.
India finally had its own finisher, which until then were patented only by the renowned Pakis, Javid Miandad or Inzy or England's Neil Fairbrother or Alan Lamb.
The legacy was carried on by MS Dhoni who went to become the finest ODI finisher and then King Kohli took it to a different level.
While a certain Wasim Akram augmented the gulf in the win ratio of Indo-Pak ODIs, the finest Southpaw ever to bat for India reduced the gap.
If not for his trendsetting exploits of chasing down some daunting totals when the odds were stacked against team India from the new millennium, the 2011 World Cup Finals against Sri Lanka would have ended the moment Sachin got out, just like the semifinals of the 1996 world cup did after Sachin’s fall.
Thank you, Yuvraj Singh, for entertaining us with a Caribbean flair and for being the man for the big ICC events for Indian cricket right from 1995 under 15 world cup to 2011 cricket world cup. Fate then had different ideas but your resilience ensured that it was only temporary and you did come back with a bang giving us more moments to relish, while the end was seemingly near and inevitable.
If not for India’s fab four in Tests, you would have had an equally great career in the longer format as well, but you did enough for ODIs and T20s that will go down in cricketing folklore for generations of fans across the world.