Yuvraj innings applies Dementor kiss to India
Harry Potter readers will be familiar with what a magical creature called a Dementor does. It sucks all happiness, all positivity, all hope from a living being. It does not stop at that. It proceeds to suck the very soul out, leaving only the body behind, practically lifeless. The latter act is called the Dementor's Kiss. Now not even the most cynical person would brand Yuvraj Singh a Dementor even in the extreme emotion of what happened tonight in Dhaka. He has given Indian cricket and its fans numerous reasons and occasions to feel happy and proud about for over a decade. His deeds in limited-overs cricket, especially in the 2011 World Cup, are the stuff of legend.
His effort of 11 off 21, however, was the Dementor's Kiss for India in the World T20 final. It wasn't only the chasm between the number of deliveries he faced and the runs he scored. It was something more critical. It sucked all the momentum from their innings and left them with a total that did register on the scoreboard, but did little else for their prospects. It was so thorough a soul-destroying operation that it sought out whatever momentum Virat Kohli was building, and killed it. This despite yet another epic from Kohli, who must have felt like screaming out in frustration every time Yuvraj failed to hand him the strike.
Twice, Yuvraj consumed half an over to bring Kohli on strike. Two sets of three balls each producing a grand total of two singles. In the 15th and 17th overs, when all batsmen are supposed to be doing in T20 is try to hit the ball out of sight. This with a charged-up, in-form, incandescent Kohli straining to get his chance at the other end.
Denying strike to a batsman in full flow can rob him of his rhythm and the zone he has worked so hard till then to build for himself.
Off the fourth ball of that 17th, Kohli charged the bowler, but could only hit it along the ground to long-on, admonishing himself as he trotted to the other end for a single. How much of that anger was directed at Yuvraj, we will never know. Kohli finds it hard to hide his disappointment even when a team-mate misfields. All we saw was that after the game ended and Yuvraj walked up from his position at deep midwicket to shake hands with team-mates and the opposition, Kohli quietly slunk away when the senior batsman came close to him.
From the man who Kohli had so much faith in that he had made his franchise owner put in the highest bid of the IPL auction for Yuvraj just over a month ago.
India were out of it, barring a miracle, by the time their innings had ended. Yuvraj had left India with little positive vibe at the break, after they had seen their decorated match-winner of years gone past struggle to the extent and for the time he did.
West Indies had been 38 for 2 after 11 overs in the 2012 World T20 final, also against Sri Lanka. From there, Marlon Samuels had catapulted them to 137 for 6. India were 65 for 2 after 11 overs in this final. From there, they managed seven runs less than what West Indies had made, after starting 27 in front. Not only does that show you how inspirational Samuels was that Colombo night, it also rams home how dispiriting Yuvraj was this Dhaka night.
In the 2013 Champions Trophy final, India had ended one short of the 130 they made tonight. But they had been given a late boost by Ravindra Jadeja, and would have drawn hope from that. Hope can be a tenuous thing to maintain, especially in an all-or-nothing clash like a final. To watch someone as experienced on the big occasion as Yuvraj scratch around for nearly half the duration of a T20 innings can be gutting for the entire side.
The delivery that Yuvraj got out to, a high full toss, he would have clobbered for six nearly every time in his glorious past. By the time he holed out, it was the penultimate over, and India had had a gigantic suction pump run over them.
They had not got too many freebies from Sri Lanka till now, and they were not getting anything for what remained of their innings. Kohli, indefatigable but helpless Kohli, turned for an impossible second run off the final ball of the innings, trying to regain something, anything for India, and getting run-out for 77 off 58. But it was too late. The Dementor's Kiss had already been delivered. Most unfortunately for India, it had come from the man who had won them the 2011 World Cup. That is what will be the hardest to digest.
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo