The big booming familiar voice of Ravi Shastri went off thus: “…and he’s put it away, or has he? Yesss, into the crowd! Six sixes in an over, Yuvraj Singh finishes things off in style…” Yuvraj Singh the batsman. Stuart Broad the bowler. The written word seems inept to narrate what happened next. More than 11 years have passed since that unforgettable over. We’ll pause to go back at the time when this man, perhaps not even 20 then, showed what he could do. Yuvraj had announced his arrival at the big stage against Australia in October 2000 in the ICC Knockout tournament (renamed Champions Trophy later), against the likes of Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath. That innings was a defining moment in the Indian all-rounder’s career. “First game you bat and you score 84 against the best team in the world. For people it was like, first game and he scored big runs against such a big team,” says the veteran, who announced his retirement from international cricket here yesterday. The seeds of Yuvraj’s presence in the sport were visible earlier that year, when he played the Under-19 World Cup. He made it to that tournament on the back of a crackling triple ton in the Cooch Behar Trophy for Punjab U-19. Yuvraj’s all-round skills were fully on show in the U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka where he was among the top run-scorers as well as the leading wicket-takers. TRUE CHAMPION “I knew if Yuvi would have played tennis, he’d be a champ, if he’d taken to skating, he’d been a champ…” said his father, Yograj Singh, in a video that was an ode to Yuvraj. By scoring 11,778 runs and picking up 148 wickets in international cricket, he proved his father, a former international cricketer himself, right. Talk about India and limited overs cricket, Yuvraj Singh’s name is never far away from the discussions. Be it his run-scoring spree in the 2002 NatWest Series, including the rescue-act with Mohammed Kaif in the final, or the six-in-six maximums in the World T20 in 2007 or the Player of the Tournament performance in the 2011 World Cup, Yuvraj has made his presence felt in almost every big win that India has. It is worth mentioning that his fifer and half-century against Ireland in the 2011World Cup is the only such instance in the history of the global tournament. All-rounder? Yes, sir! It’s no surprise then, that the one regret Yuvraj has is about not playing enough Test cricket, despite averaging in the 40s in first-class cricket. He reflects saying, “I was playing at a time when it was very difficult to get a (Test) spot. Players like (VVS) Laxman, (Sourav) Ganguly, who was captain, Sachin (Tendulkar), Rahul (Dravid), Viru (Virender Sehwag) started opening. It was very hard to find space in the middle-order.” That time we used to get like one or two Test matches compared to guys today who get about 10-15 Test matches. Then when Sourav retired, after that for a year I was playing Test cricket and finally I got that spot and then I got diagnosed with cancer. So, I don’t know what to say. It’s been unfortunate,” he adds. It is well known that the maverick all-rounder defeated cancer and resumed playing the sport on the big stage. The fighter that he is, he refused to give up even when he was offered a farewell game during a time when it was felt he wouldn’t clear the famous Yo-Yo test. “I was told that if I couldn’t pass yo-yo test I should play a retirement game. I declined the offer and said I would go home if I don’t pass the test,” he says, shutting down questions regarding a request for a final retirement game. Of course, he cleared the Yo-Yo test later. COACHING CAN WAIT Yuvraj wants to finally move away from the rigours of international cricket. But he harbours hopes of plying his trade in T20 leagues worldwide. However, quiz him about taking up a mentoring role, he gets back, “Abhi nahi, boss, abhi toh retirehua hoon! (Not so soon, I’ve just retired). I want to enjoy a year or two and think about it later. Itni jaldi coaching me mat daalo. (Don’t push me into coaching so soon).” Although not from the field of play, Yuvraj has walked away being one of the legends of Indian cricket. And till the next time we see him live, might as well dwell on the numerous memories he’s left behind. He’s, truly, finished things off in style!