India v England, 2nd ODI, Cuttack January 19, 2017

'Probably one of my best innings' - Yuvraj

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Yuvraj admits he had doubts about his international career

Yuvraj Singh, who spent three years out of India's ODI side, marked his return with his career-best score - 150 off 127 balls - in his 295th ODI, against England in Cuttack. Once he reached his century - his first since the 2011 World Cup in India, where he was Man of the Tournament - Yuvraj thumped his chest and grew emotional. The 35-year-old pressed on to make 150, before edging behind in the 43rd over. His knock was instrumental in launching India from 25 for 3 to 381 for 6, and Yuvraj rated it as probably one of his best.

"Probably, one of my best - my highest score in ODIs," Yuvraj told Star Sports. "The last time I got a hundred was the 2011 World Cup; I am pretty happy that I played a good innings.

"I just tried to get a partnership. They [England] bowled really well upfront and we just wanted to rotate the strike and get into the rhythm, and take our time. There was a lot of time. I just wanted to play down the ground and not take many risks."

Yuvraj saw off Chris Woakes' threatening opening burst (5-3-14-3) and rebuilt the innings with MS Dhoni before unfurling a gallery of shots, including the lofted drive over long-off and the pick-up flick over midwicket. Yuvraj credited his touch to a prolific run in the Ranji Trophy: he scored 672 runs in eight innings at 84, including a career-best 260 for Punjab against Baroda at Feroz Shah Kotla in October last year.

"I think [in] the whole domestic season I had been batting well," Yuvraj said. "I have been hitting the ball well. I have worked hard on my fitness and my batting. Even in the last game I was hitting the ball well. I knew if it's my day... I just told Sanjay Bangar the way I'm hitting the ball I think I am going to score big. Whatever the stage is, we try to be positive, that's the reason why me and Mahi were able to get the rhythm going."

Yuvraj Singh wound the clock back with a stylish century © Associated Press

Yuvraj lauded his former captain Dhoni with whom he added 256 in 38.2 overs for the fourth wicket. Ahead of the series, Yuvraj had said he was looking forward to "batting fearlessly" with a freed-up Dhoni, and on Thursday he reiterated that Dhoni was still a key cog in the middle order, despite relinquishing the limited-overs captaincy.

"He [Dhoni] played a great innings," Yuvraj said. "He is the most experienced middle-order batsman in the team. He is also a sensational captain. He was more free today, the way he was batting. I have always said when Mahi is not captaining he is more free and you saw the result today."

Later, at the post-match press conference, Yuvraj elaborated on how the pair had gone about building the partnership: "We two were the most experienced players in the team. He realised that I was getting boundaries. He was just there rotating the strike and our first target was to make a 50-run partnership. After that we wanted to take our partnership further to 100 runs."

Yuvraj also admitted there was a time after his battle with cancer where he thought "whether he should continue or not".

"I came back after recovering from cancer, the first two-three years were very hard," he said. "I had to work hard on my fitness and I was in and out of the team. I was not able to get a permanent spot. There was a time when I was wondering whether to continue or not to continue. Never giving up is my theory. I knew time will change.

"I don't think about who's reacting to what nor do I read newspapers. I don't watch TV too. I try to focus on my game and prove a point to myself that I'm still good enough for international cricket."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Raz2802 on January 21, 2017, 9:11 GMT

    Umangsagar, yours is the best tribute to Yuvraj Singh!

    I stood up when he got to his century - which is something I rarely do. In fact, I was always praying for this great man to come back to the Indian team to showcase his majestic batting prowess using which he had won many a matches for India.

    And he answered my prayers!

    His innings of 150 runs is a tight slap on the face of those idiots who wanted him to retire - asap.

  • Raz2802 on January 21, 2017, 8:56 GMT

    For all those who hated Yuvraj Singh just go and drown yourself in a dirty drain! Yuvraj is a all-time ODI great who I was dying to see play again. I was praying that he comes back and spawn the same old magic with his bat through which he had singly-handedly won many a match. And how can I forget the numerous Yuvraj-Dhoni 100 partnerships, each of which helped India to win. People who were shouting against him are immature and short-sighted. In India it is a fashion to pull down great achievers for the smallest of mistakes. There are not just immature but also hypocritical! If they are 50 years old and working would they resign to give way for younger employees?

  • umangsagar on January 20, 2017, 18:07 GMT

    He worked hard and had natural talent, a god gifted grace and power along with immaculate timing. He rose to pinnacle with all the success that was on offer. Then came the downside. Cancer. Lack of form. Lost place in team. Age in mid 30s. Others who came good in his absence. He could have sat back and retired as one of the best players we had. But he chose to fight back and regain what was his, the faith and love of those who believed in him. He fought cancer, more importantly he fought the demons inside. . . He chose to work double hard, get back to basics, consult others who could correct and guide him, did what he used to do when a "rookie", unlearned few things and learnt again. Then when he got his chance, he got back to where he always deserved to be. And when he lifted his bat, billions celebrated with him. Honoured to see this comeback

  • sunilvaidya on January 20, 2017, 11:45 GMT

    rohit sharma and shikhar dhawan are our best opening pair in odis after sachin ganguly... rohit sharma as an opener-68innings 3164 runs notout 6 times average 51 runs 8 100s 17 50s.... score of 50 plus every 2.72 innings shikhar dhawan as an opener-75 innings 3090 runs notout 3 times average 42.91 runs 9 100s 17 50s....score of 50 plus every 2.88 innings ....fastest indian to reach 1000 2000 and 3000 runs in odis...out of 9 odi centuries...2 centuries in aus 2 centuries in eng 1 century in nz...

  • BullayBaaz on January 20, 2017, 8:14 GMT

    @D-Ascendant whatever you may think of Yuvi at this juncture, how dare you defame a cricketer who got India its 20/20 world cup as well as ODI world cup. And please, have some shame...the man was slightly busy fighting cancer at the height of his career...what do you know of greatness!

  • cricfan69030023 on January 20, 2017, 5:08 GMT

    Very happy for Yuvi,what a man and awesome support from Mahi as well,I am not sure where all those laid back arm chair critiques \haters are hiding now? I want these two players to play until next WC as no one in India can replace these 2 anytime from the squad. They are precious.

  • SAURAVJAIN on January 20, 2017, 1:21 GMT

    Time for Kohli to groom India's biggest batting strength Jadeja's batting. This can be justified by Champions trophy 2013 where Jadeja won matches off his batting. So better promote him in batting and give him some proper chance to bat.

  • cricfan80440987 on January 20, 2017, 1:13 GMT

    Cricket at the moment is getting very boring atm with the same 9 teams playing pointless series, over and over again. There needs to be more teams like ireland and afghnistan in the mix, with all teams playing with a new international strucuture. All teams are playing for today is bragging rights