Yuvraj Singh: A forerunner of Ganguly's Class of '01

There was much more to Yuvraj than just his towering sixes and mindboggling catches. The extravagant backswing was, in ways, a summation of India's inflated ambitions at the time...

It was Yuvraj Singh's fighting spirit that served as a spine to an illustrious career which saw him lift the World T20 title in 2007 and the 50-over World Cup at home in 2011.    -  Getty Images

Today, Virat Kohli's sustained assault on the bowlers is a microcosm of India's cricket over the past five years: young, fearless and up for a challenge in face of all odds. 

But to fans like me, who grew up watching cricket in the early 2000s, it was Sourav Ganguly's class of '01 -- Mohammed Kaif, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh -- that lent a fresh lease to the team that fused aggression with belief in a manner hitherto unseen by that generation of Indian fans. 

While Harbhajan is still around, he is seen more in the commentary box than on the field. And with Yuvraj calling it a day, that chapter of Indian cricket is nearing an end. 

If Yuvraj's tenure was split into segments, it would be the rapid rise, the unsettled middle-stage, the dizzying heights again and then the final slump. His battles in the twilight of his career, however, were more off the field than on it. 

 

There was much more to Yuvraj than just his towering sixes and mindboggling catches. The extravagant backswing was, in ways, a summation of India's inflated ambitions at the time; while a picture of him lurking between backward point and gully: the harbinger of a new dimension to the side's fielding. 

Yuvraj's ferocious assault on England seamer Stuart Broad at the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 made him the first batsman to hit six sixes in an over in Twenty20 internationals and the fourth in senior cricket.

READ: Yuvraj Singh's top 10 knocks

Garry Sobers and Ravi Shastri achieved the feat in first-class matches, Herschelle Gibbs in the World Cup.  I remember leaping in joy in front of the television after the first four sixes, even as the England fielders engaged in an animated team meeting in the middle of the over.

Though to no avail as Yuvraj launched the remaining two deliveries into the Durban night sky, helping India usher into the era of T20 cricket where big hits and bigger totals are the norms. 

If Yuvraj's tenure was split into segments, it would be the rapid rise, the unsettled middle-stage, the dizzying heights again and then the final slump. His battles in the twilight of his career, however, were more off the field than on it. 

It was Yuvraj's fighting spirit that served as a spine to an illustrious career which saw him lift the World T20 title in 2007 and the 50-over World Cup at home in 2011. 

READ| 'It was a dream', Yuvraj reminisces 2011 triumph

"This game has taught me how to fight, how to fall, to dust myself off, to get up again and move forward. I have failed more times than I have succeeded but I never gave up and will never give up till my last breath, and that’s what cricket taught me," Yuvraj remarked at his farewell speech

His best coincided with the transformation of the country into an undisputed cricketing powerhouse and in doing so, the team too learnt how to fight.

Go well, Yuvraj.