By Chaitali Wadhwa
The early hours of 7th April saw angry fans throwing stones at a leading cricketer’s house. Yuvraj Singh, who looked unusually subdued in the ICC World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka in Mirpur, Dhaka on Sunday, has suddenly become ‘villain’ No. 1 after high-flying India lost by six wickets. Yuvraj scored 11 off 21 balls as India failed to gather momentum in the middle overs and finished with just 130 for four in their 20 overs.
Fans in Chandigarh were clearly not amused with Yuvraj’s batting. According to media reports, stones were pelted at the star all-rounder’s house in Chandigarh and security had to be beefed up. Unidentified youths in three cars created ruckus near Yuvraj’s house and the police had to rush a team to control the situation. At the highest level, sport can be cruel, leaving little place for sympathy.
The loss to Sri Lanka did come as heartbreak to many, but is it fair to lash out the anger on one person only?
While Indians’ passion for the game is usually measured by the amount of money they bring into the game — and the God-like status bestowed upon players like Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni — there is sometimes a negative to the sport being a national obsession. It was painful for any cricket fan to see one of the cleanest strikers in the game struggle to put bat on ball.
“It was an off-day for Yuvraj. He tried his best but it’s not easy to come in and start slogging from ball one,” Dhoni said at the post-match press conference where most of the questions centred on Yuvraj’s performance. Both Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj’s dad came out in support of the batsman saying it is unfair to blame one man for the loss. “When we lose, there is criticism from all sides. Ups and downs are part of life and part of this game as well,” he said.
If it is any consolation to Singh, he is not the first player to face the wrath of blow-hot-and-cold Indian cricket fans. There is a litany of illustrious players who have gone through this ordeal. In 1983, Sunil Gavaskar was roundly abused and pelted with debris after he was dismissed first ball against the West Indies at Kolkata. In 1984-85, he was booed at the same ground after Kapil Dev was dropped from the team which played against England.
The 1996 World Cup semi-final at Kolkata was disrupted when the Indian team slumped badly in the run chase against Sri Lanka. The match had to be called off as irate fans, sensing defeat, threatened to burn down the stadium.
Harsh as this may sound, Singh’s batting in that match raises serious queries about whether he deserves a place in the team, irrespective of the support he has got from the cricket fraternity, including the redoubtable Sachin Tendulkar. It’s been three years since the memorable 2011 World Cup win in which Singh was the player of the tournament. His fightback from cancer immediately after earned him iconic status. But the dip in form since his return to international cricket has been startling.
Let’s not forget the achievements that Yuvraj has brought to the country. 3 years back, Yuvraj Singh made a telling opening statement in the press conference following his match-winning knock in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals against Australia. 10 days later when India lifted the World Cup, Yuvraj was named the Man-of-the-Tournament, a tournament that he actually started with a string of failures battling poor form. In 2007, it was Yuvraj Singh who brought the world cup home.
If you want to blame Yuvraj for India’s loss, do it; once you make your point, please move on. Let’s not stone his house or his family. Let’s not abuse him or make cartoons and jokes that belittle such a great cricketer. For the sake of those great memories, goose bump moments and so many wonderful victories he has presented to us, let’s leave Yuvraj Singh alone for now.
A pass out from Bluebells School International, Chaitali is currently a 1st year student at Amity Law School Delhi, IP University. She is passionate about writing and loves to compose poems. She likes to spend her free time reading novels and also enjoys watching television. She aspires to be a successful environmental lawyer and would like to bring justice to those whose voices go unheard. Have a look at her blog www.chaitaliwadhwa.blogspot.com. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org