As the Royal Challengers Bangalore begin their 2014 Indian Premier League campaign against the Delhi Daredevils on Thursday in Sharjah, the focus would be on Yuvraj Singh more than AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle. Yuvraj, earlier this year, fetched the highest price ever in an IPL player auction despite his indifferent form.
The southpaw had made a strong return to the Indian team in October last year, slamming an unbeaten 77 to set up India's victory over Australia in the one-off T20 International but has since been plagued by poor shot-selection and at times ruthless criticism. He was dropped after India returned empty-handed from South Africa but was subsequently selected for the ICC World Twenty20, where he failed to revive the old magic. Yuvraj was picked purely for his abilities to star in world tournaments. However, barring a match-winning 43-ball 60 against Australia in a dead-rubber, the Punjab batsman failed to fire throughout the event and even copped most of the blame in the defeat to Sri Lanka in the final for his go-slow approach. (Must read: Virat Kohli says Yuvraj Singh X-factor for Bangalore in IPL 7)
Yuvraj himself is still haunted by the heart-wrenching loss: "The last one week was really tough. It was really hard to get over the defeat in the World T20 final against Sri Lanka. As a team, we played a fantastic tournament and displayed emphatic cricket all around. But in the finals, things didn't go the way we planned and it's not easy to overcome that disappointment," Yuvraj told the official website of the RCB ahead of their IPL opener on Thursday.
Former players and sections of the media questioned Yuvraj's relevance in the Indian side, until Sachin Tendulkar came to his rescue, reminding the country of his efforts in 2007 and 2011 and asking them to show some patience.
Yuvraj said as a sportsperson, he needed to move away from such emotional setbacks, and he is now targeting the IPL to make his critics eat humble pie.
"I am thrilled to be a part of Royal Challengers Bangalore and I hope this will be a memorable season for RCB. Most of us got a short but very refreshing break after the World T20 and now everyone is looking fresh and ready for the next 50 days," Yuvraj said.
Yuvraj was contracted with the Pune Warriors until the last IPL season before his initial stint with Kings XI Punjab but he could not really make an impact for the Sahara-owned team. After the Pune franchise was dissolved by the IPL Governing Council over financial differences, Vijay Mallya bought him for a staggering Rs 14 crores in the players' auctions in February.