Johannesburg: Indian captain Saurav Ganguly once again showed his penchant for backing the right horse when Yuvraj Singh's half century sealed an emphatic six-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan on Saturday.The 22-year-old would still be languishing on the cricket fields of Chandigarh in northern India if Ganguly had not convinced the selectors the youngster had the talent to go far.
Yuvraj was picked for the Champions Trophy in Kenya in 2000 and made a dream start when he hit 84, held a super catch and effected a run out to fashion a win over Australia.The hard-hitting left-hander followed that with a match-winning 98 not out against Sri Lanka in 2001 and scores of 80 and 75 against Zimbabwe to prove his sensational debut was not a fluke.Then last summer, when India was in the dumps at 146 for five chasing England's mammoth 325 in the NatWest final at Lord's, Yuvraj turned the match around in the company of another young turk Mohammad Kaif, making 69 off 63 balls.He did not impress in the first five matches of this World Cup but then found form when it mattered most, scoring an unbeaten 50 in a fifth wicket stand of 99 with vice-captain Rahul Dravid against Pakistan.
"Yuvraj's contribution was immense," an appreciative Ganguly said."He kept his cool and played sensibly when the required rate was down to less than five."There was no need for rash strokes, but he kept the scoreboard moving with nice placements." Even maestro Sachin Tendulkar, whose superb 98 off 75 balls decimated Pakistan at the start, bowed his head to the youngster. "I would especially like to mention Yuvraj's contribution which is not always recognised as it should be," Tendulkar said after being named man-of-the-match.Cricket flows through Yuvraj's veins. His father, Yograj Singh, shared the new ball with Kapil Dev during one Test match in Australia, lost his way and was dropped.Yograj was determined not to let it happen to his son. "Dad always told me: never take cricket for granted," Yuvraj recalled. "He said cricket will have no time for you if you do not have time for it.
"I just want to do my best and help India win." Despite having been on the One-day circuit for more than two years, Yuvraj has yet to break into the star-studded Test middle-order that includes Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid and Venkat Sai Laxman."It will be great to play Test cricket, but I am willing to wait my turn," Yuvraj said. He can look to the future with confidence, knowing Ganguly will continue to back him.Copyright AFP 2001