Yuvraj Singh has said that his return to India's limited-overs sides has helped him express himself more "freely", after he struck a match-winning 62 off 27 for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the opening game of IPL 2017 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
"I enjoyed my batting tonight. My batting has been up and down over the couple of years, but I am feeling really good at the moment," Yuvraj told iplt20.com. "The comeback into the Indian team has really helped me. I am more free in my mind and I am not worrying anymore about making a comeback. I am just going to play according to the situation and express myself."
Yuvraj was recalled to India's ODI and T20I sides for the home series against England in January, having previously played for the side in the 2016 World T20. Picked on his form in the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy, he went on to score 210 runs in the three-match ODI series, including a 127-ball 150 in the second ODI in Cuttack. He scored his fastest IPL fifty on Wednesday, reaching the landmark in 23 balls.
Sunrisers captain David Warner said Yuvraj was given the No. 4 slot so that he could get his eye in before getting in the big hits.
"Look, it's superb to see him play the way he did. That's the Yuvi I used to watch on TV," Warner said. "Superb stroke-play, hitting it clean, and, you know what, he backed himself. And that's the way we want him to keep playing. He's batting at [No.] 4 for a reason and that's to get himself in and play that way. If he can do that another five or six times for us this year, we are going to go a long way to the finals."
Yuvraj said the game-changing moment was Ben Cutting's darting throw from fine-leg to run out a set Kedar Jadhav at a crucial stage in Royal Challengers' chase of 208. Shane Watson, standing in as captain of Royal Challengers, also agreed that Jadhav's run-out turned the game in Sunrisers' favour, ending a promising 56-run partnership for the third wicket. Watson also pointed to the side's sloppy fielding, particularly a dropped catch when Yuvraj was on 26, as a factor in their loss.
"That run-out of Kedar was the turning point, really," Watson said. "We were neck and neck with Sunrisers and then we lost a couple of wickets especially through the middle period. He is batting beautifully at the moment, so Ben Cutting's amazing piece of work changed the game. Especially with someone like Yuvi, if he is able to get some momentum, with the dropped catches, he hits the ball so sweet. If you drop someone of his caliber, he can hurt you like he did tonight.
"There's no doubt that
[Yuzvendra Chahal] bowled beautifully. More than anything, Sunrisers took the game on in certain parts. A little bit of sloppy fielding, some good batting [from Sunrisers] and some not great execution at times meant they could get away. Unfortunately I didn't execute what I wanted to do against Ashish Nehra's left-arm pace. We certainly didn't click as a bowling unit, and that comes down partly to me. I take full blame for that. Still a big learning curve for me to know how to take to them [bowlers], what fields to set and we will certainly be a lot better from what happened tonight."
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Sunrisers vs RCB