Gautam Gambhir, the Delhi Daredevils captain, has come out strongly in defence of his India team-mate, Yuvraj Singh, who was criticised by the media for his poor performance in the 2010 season of the IPL.

"You have got to show confidence in your cricketers, you have got to back them up when they are down," Gambhir wrote in his column for Hindustan Times. "Yuvraj is an exceptional cricketer, and the match-winner right now in this country. He's always been the way he is, in form or out of it. He's had the same lifestyle, the same carefree, happy attitude to life in general. So why kick the guy when he's down?

Yuvraj has scored only 137 runs in eight IPL games at an average of 17.12. His performance mirrored Kings XI Punjab's woeful showing and they are virtually out of contention for the semi-finals after winning only one out of eight games. That led to speculation that his poor form was due to an alleged rift between Yuvraj, the former Punjab captain, and incumbent Kumar Sangakkara. An upset Yuvraj vented his feelings on his Twitter page.

"This is the same Yuvraj who's single-handedly won matches for India," Gambhir said. "So yes, he's going through a lean patch, that doesn't make him any less of a fantastic player. Every person, whether it's Yuvraj, or you or me or anyone else, needs space and time to recoup, the freedom to be allowed to do that and the confidence that someone out there is standing by him."

Yuvraj had also stressed that his poor batting form was due to his recent injury and nothing else.