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December 12 down the years

A prince arrives

The birth of Yuvraj Singh

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Yuvraj thunders the fifth of his six sixes in an over against England in Durban in 2007
Yuvraj thunders the fifth of his six sixes in an over against England in Durban in 2007 © Getty Images

The birth of Yuvraj Singh, who announced his arrival on the big stage with a pulsating 84 and some electric fielding against Australia in a quarter-final match in the 2000 ICC Knockout in Nairobi. Before long he was India's next pin-up boy. The hype grew when he and Mohammad Kaif revived a dead chase with a match-winning partnership in the final of the 2002 NatWest Series. A tendency to blow hot and cold has plagued Yuvraj through his international career, but when he's on song there's no stopping him. He matched Garry's Sobers' feat of six sixes in an over, carting Stuart Broad into orbit during the fastest international half-century - off 12 balls - during the World Twenty20 in 2007. He took India to the fifty-over World Cup in 2011, with a Player-of-the-Series performance: 362 runs and 15 wickets. However, his limitations manifested themselves in Tests - apart from three shining innings, his Test career didn't really take off. Soon after the 2011 World Cup, he was diagnosed with cancer, for which he was treated in the USA. Yuvraj returned home after completing his chemotherapy in April 2012, and returned to India's limited-overs sides soon after, but was not able to recapture the form of old.

The end of one of the most fractious matches in Test history. Pakistan and England drew the second Test in Faisalabad, but all anybody ever remembers is the ugly finger-wagging, expletive-laden face-off between England captain Mike Gatting and umpire Shakoor Rana. Rana refused to restart the match without an apology from Gatting. There was no play on the scheduled third day as a result, and the tour was almost called off.

Adelaide's first Test almost didn't happen. An unseemly dispute between Billy Murdoch's Australia side and the ground authorities over money (even though the Australians were all supposedly amateurs), and then Murdoch's objection to James Lillywhite as umpire, threatened to cause the match to be scrapped. But the disagreements were settled, although Lillywhite's replacement reportedly knew little about cricket. England won by eight wickets.

A day for insomniacs. Sunil Gavaskar began what was to be then the longest innings by any Indian batsman in first-class cricket when he made 172 in 708 minutes against England in the second Test in Bangalore. The record he beat was his own (593 minutes making 166 against Pakistan in 1980). Gavaskar was on the field for all but four balls of the match. Some would say it served him right.

A wrong-footed left-armer is born. Sohail Tanvir caused batsmen many problems with his unusual bowling style when he first came on. His domestic one-day form prompted the selectors to pick him as Shoaib Akhtar's replacement in the World Twenty20 2007 squad. Tanvir took six wickets in six games and landed himself an IPL contract with the eventual champions Rajasthan Royals. He ended the tournament as the highest wicket-taker (22 wickets), taking the best figures in a T20 at the time - 6 for 14 - in the process.

Matthew Fleming, who was born today, might have felt he was a little hard done by in missing the 1999 World Cup. He played 11 matches in the lead-up, and did extremely well: he was central to England's shock Sharjah triumph in 1997-98 and performed heroically in the Caribbean a couple of months later. In one of those ODIs, at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, he had a hand in five consecutive dismissals, with three wickets, a catch, and a brilliant run-out.

India clinched a 2-1 victory over South Africa with a big win in the deciding third Test in Kanpur. On a grossly undercooked pitch, the match-winning hand came from Mohammad Azharuddin: a scintillating, unbeaten 163. Left chasing 461 to win, South Africa were hustled to a 280-run defeat. It was their first series defeat (they lost a one-off Test in West Indies in 1991-92) since returning to Test cricket.

Birth of the tragic Wilf Slack, who died suddenly of a heart attack while playing on a tour in the Gambia in 1989. He was only 34. Slack, a left-handed opener who was very successful with Middlesex, played two of his three Tests, and made his only fifty, in the West Indies - where he was born - in 1985-86, having been called up as a replacement when Mike Gatting had his face rearranged by Malcolm Marshall.

Laurie Williams, born today, represented West Indies in 15 ODIs in a five-year span from 1996 to 2001. A medium-pace bowler suited to the 50-over format, Williams took 3 for 16 against New Zealand in his second appearance, and 10 wickets at 32.40 apiece during the 2000-01 Carlton Series in Australia. He didn't do justice to his batting - he had three first-class centuries - at the international level, averaging just above 11 with a best of 41. He died tragically in a road accident at the age of 33.

Pakistan overcame a typically farcical first-day collapse to crush New Zealand by 161 runs in the one-off Test in Christchurch. They slipped from 135 for 0 to 208 all out as a flurry of batsmen tossed their wickets away, but they showed greater application second time round, batting for 145 overs in making 434. That gave them a lead of 366, enough leeway for Mushtaq Ahmed (7 for 56) to wreak havoc and spin the Kiwis to defeat.

A workhorse is born. Dattu Phadkar gave unstinting service to India in the 1940s and 50s as an attacking lower-middle-order batsman and indefatigable swing bowler. His trademark figures were 1 for 40 off 20, but he did manage three five-fors, including 7 for 159 against West Indies in Madras in 1948-49. He died in Madras in 1985.

West Indies sent Pakistan to their first defeat in a Faisalabad Test, a match notable for a sadistic assault from Sylvester Clarke. Batting at No. 11, he smeared 35 off 18 balls including four sixes - three of which came off successive deliveries from Mohammad Nazir. A low-scoring dogfight, the match also featured a couple of masterclasses from Viv Richards. He cracked 72 and 67 in a game where no other West Indian reached 50.

Kenya's Jimmy Kamande, born today, made his way in to the national side through the Under-19 ranks in time for the 1999 World Cup, where he was reported for a suspect action. He reinvented himself as an offspinner and eventually showed he was worth his place in that role. Not a big man, he gets considerable bounce and turn and possesses a good quicker ball, with not a hint of the action that got him into trouble.

Other birthdays
1860 Billy Newham (England)
1879 Roger Hartigan (Australia)
1887 Nigel Haig (England)
1904 Jim Christy (South Africa)
1914 Denis Begbie (South Africa)
1925 Ghulam Guard (India)
1952 Ajit de Silva (Sri Lanka)
1960 Amal Silva (Sri Lanka)
1967 Masood Anwar (Pakistan)
1971 Afzaal Haider (Pakistan)
1973 Michael di Venuto (Australia)
1983 Mohammad Sharif (Bangladesh)
1986 Jahurul Islam (Bangladesh)

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