On Friday, May 6, 2016, Yuvraj Singh played his first match in IPL 9. It helped his franchise, Sunrisers Hyderabad make more headlines than they had in the last month with David Warner and Mustafizur Rahman. Warner is the league's top batsman, Rahman is its top bowler. One's an Aussie, the other a Bangladeshi. Yuvraj is more Indian than the IPL.
So far in this edition, there have been no Indian heroes. Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane's many half centuries have been in cruise control. You've seen one, you've seen them all.
They've been scored opening, with much method and little madness. In spite of their big runs, their teams are rotting in the bottom half of the points table. Along with Dhoni's Rising Pune Super Giants.
While Virat, Rohit and Rahane open, Dhoni tends to close an innings. By the time he walks out, it's already the death overs. His short spurts at the crease are about hustling between the wickets, the solitary six in the last over. As with the openers, with Dhoni too, you almost know what to expect.
The IPL's calling card was always the unexpected. It made players just as quickly as it unmade them. Today, the league is tired. It's taken two retired India greats, Rahul Dravid and Zaheer Khan to shake the tournament up.
With Virat's RCB and Dhoni's RPS on the brink of elimination, Yuvraj walks out, seemingly oblivious, to play his first match. Yuvraj's absence is what feeds Yuvraj's presence. His being there, on the field, with ball in hand, comes close to a Sachin wave from the dugout.
It stirs memories. Some are cricket memories but mostly they are untraceable abstract feelings, stuck deep in our subconscious. Even we are not fully aware of them or what they mean to us.
They make us smile, live in hope, want something good to happen, want Yuvi to make that good happen.
Yuvi catwalks to bowl in the ninth over. It's a wide. He's bowling after a long time, we collectively say. The commentators will tell us again that Yuvraj is not a big spinner of the ball. They will talk of his speed variations. There is comfort in this talk, we've heard it many, many times before.
Just as there is comfort in Yuvi. The over is bowled before you know it. And before you know it, Yuvi's back to bowl his second over. He nearly has Bravo's wicket. There could be talk of Yuvraj's knack of taking wickets, that's why Dhoni has often turned to him at crucial times. All this is embedded within you.
Just as Yuvi is embedded within you. Yuvraj faced his first ball in the tenth over. Yuvraj faces his last ball in the 14th over. It's been a forgettable innings, most of us will forget about it.
Yuvi will forget about it. Till he catwalks to bat another day. And play from that memory of yours. What he hasn't done in the IPL is unimportant. It's always what he can do that pushes the bid at the auction.
Yuvraj Singh sold for Rs 7 crore to Sunrisers Hyderabad. You sold yourself to Yuvi for...some things money can't buy.
First published here