Veteran batsman Yuvraj Singh had announced his decision to retire from international cricket as well as the Indian Premier League (IPL) in a press conference held at Mumbai on Monday.
The left-handed batsman played 40 Tests, 304 ODIs and 58 T20Is for India in a 17-year long international career with his last appearance coming against the West Indies in June, 2017.
Yuvraj is considered to be one of the finest limited-overs all-rounders produced by India with the southpaw going on to make major contributions towards the team’s triumph in the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 as well as the 2011 ICC World Cup.
“After 25 years, in and around 22 yards, and after almost 17 years of international cricket on and off, I have decided to move on,” Yuvraj said.
“I am extremely lucky to play 400+ games for India, I for one, would have not imagined doing this when I started my career as a cricketer.
“Through this journey, some matches that remain etched in my memory were the 2002 NatWest final, my first test hundred in Lahore in 2004, the 2007 ODI series in England, six sixes at the 2007 T20 World Cup, that match when we realised to have not gone beyond at 2007 50-over World Cup and then the most memorable was 2011 World Cup finals.”
While the left-hander’s exploits of smashing six sixes in a single Stuart Broad over in the 2007 World Twenty20 will long be remembered, his crowning achievement as an all-rounder came in the 2011 World Cup on home soil where he picked up 15 wickets and scored 362 runs to finish as the man-of-the-series.
“Winning the 2011 World Cup, being Man of the Series, four Man of the Match awards, was all like a dream, which was followed by a harsh reality, getting diagnosed with cancer,” he stated.
“It was like touching the sky and then falling down at light speed and hitting the ground hard. All this happened so quickly, and that too when I was at the peak of my career.
“But in that moment, everyone to whom I mattered, stood together for me – my fans, my friends, my family.”
The 37-year-old has also ended his association with the IPL as a player after turning out for Mumbai Indians in the 2019 edition.
Since making his ODI debut in the 2000 ICC Champions Trophy, Yuvraj went on to score 8,701 runs in 304 ODIs while picking up 111 wickets with the ball.
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The tournament is likely to be played in the T20I format and is slated to take place in September, just one month before the 2020 World Cup T20 takes place in Australia.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was represented by chairman Ehsan Mani and managing director Wasim Khan in the ACC meeting also attended by representatives of India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
No decision has been taken yet over which cities in Pakistan will host the 15th edition of the Asia Cup.
Pakistan last hosted the Asia Cup on home soil in 2008 when the tournament was held in the 50-over format.
With bilateral cricket relations between Pakistan and India completely strained, it remains to be seen whether the tournament is staged in the former’s backyard or moved to another neutral venue.
India had been awarded the rights to host the 2018 Asia Cup but the tournament was shifted to the UAE eventually at the behest of the BCCI.
In the meeting held at Singapore, ACC members also reaffirmed their stance on including cricket in the 2022 Asian Games slated to be held in Hangzhuo, China.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had last year announced its decision to include cricket in the sports program for the 2022 Asian Games. The matches in the Asian Games will be held in the T20 format.
India, who are one of the favourites for the tournament, will be seeking to bounce back after being routed by New Zealand in the first official warm-up where their star-studded batting line up was bowed out for just 179 runs.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, saw their first warm-up game against arch-rivals Pakistan abandoned without a ball being bowled and will be desperate for some match practice before the World Cup gets underway.
INDIA SEEK KULDEEP REVIVAL
While they had only a total of 179 to play with in the loss to the Kiwis, India’s bowlers underwhelmed despite being given a strong start by the ever-reliable Jasprit Bumrah.
Wrist-spin has been India’s primary wicket-taking option in recent times when it comes to limited-overs cricket but their duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal barely troubled New Zealand’s batsmen.
Kuldeep’s ineffectiveness is increasingly worrying for India given his lack of form for KKR in the recently concluded IPL where he was benched for the latter half of the campaign.
India will not want to solely rely on Bumrah with the ball in the World Cup and they desperately need their spinners to rediscover their best if they are to challenge the likes of England and other top sides.
EXPERIENCED BANGLADESH SEEK TO MAINTAIN MOMENTUM
Although their warm-up clash with Pakistan was washed out, Bangladesh come into Tuesday’s match on the back of a morale boosting win over West Indies in the recent ODI tri-series final held in Ireland.
The Tigers performed admirably in conditions which will be very similar to that in England and it was the perfect response to being whitewashed by New Zealand earlier this year.
Brimming with experienced campaigners such as skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh are a side capable of beating any opposition on their day. They have been steadily become a thorn in the flesh of top international sides in recent years and will be looking to go one better than their 2015 World Cup displays where they reached the quarter-final.
A win against India could be the statement they need to make before the World Cup gets underway.
INDIA SEEK ANSWERS AT NO4
It is surprising that India have left it this late to find a steady batsman for the No4 slot but that is the conundrum still facing skipper Virat Kohli just days before the side embarks on their World Cup campaign.
Against New Zealand, it was KL Rahul who was handed an audition for the role with Vijay Shankar missing out due to an injury. However, Rahul once again failed to grasp his opportunity and his innings was cut short after just 10 deliveries to an innocuous dismissal.
Shankar should get a go at No4 on Tuesday. India will be hoping that he can seize his chance or they face the possibility of going into the World Cup with question marks remaining over the composition of their playing XI.