MUMBAI: Yuvraj Singh, India’s middle-over batting lynchpin in two World Cup triumphs, retired from international cricket with immediate effect on Monday although he will look to play on in Twenty20 leagues around the world.
The 37-year-old all-rounder, accompanied by his wife and mother, told reporters of his decision at a city hotel close to the Wankhede Stadium where India lifted their last 50-overs World Cup title in 2011.
“After almost 17 years of international cricket on and off, I have decided to move on,” he said after being reduced to tears by a video of the highlights of his career.
“Cricket has given me everything and that’s the reason why I am standing here today. It’s been a love-hate relationship with the sport in retrospect.”
Yuvraj, who played the last of his 304 one-day internationals two years ago, was a key cog in India’s World Twenty20 triumph in 2007 and was player-of-the-tournament at the World Cup four years later.
In his heyday, Yuvraj was one of the cleanest strikers of the ball in the game — as England’s Stuart Broad discovered when he was bludgeoned for six sixes in one over during the 2007 World Twenty20.
That was one of the highlights of his career, Yuvraj said, along with scoring his first test century against Pakistan at Lahore in 2004 and the 2011 World Cup triumph.
His lowest point, he added, came in the World Twenty20 final of 2014 when he scored 11 runs off 21 balls and was widely blamed for India’s six-wicket loss to Sri Lanka in Dhaka.
Yuvraj revealed that his first love had been roller-skating and he only reluctantly played cricket because his father, one-test bowler Yograj Singh, would not let him take up any other sport.
Part of the victorious Mumbai Indians squad in the recently completed Indian Premier League, Yuvraj played in only four matches during the 2019 campaign.
That would be his last foray in the IPL, he confirmed, but he would seek release from the Indian board to play in other, lower profile, Twenty20 leagues.
“At this age I can manage some kind of fun cricket,” he added.
“I am going to go and enjoy my life, it has been too stressful just thinking about my international career, performing in big tournaments like IPL.
“Hopefully I can just enjoy myself. Obviously with the BCCI’s permission I would love to go and play this year. Next year I don’t know.”
Yuvraj made an emotional return to the game in 2012 after a lengthy fight with a rare germ cell cancer in his lungs and played the last of his 40 tests that same year.
He scored 1,900 runs in the longest format of the game after making his debut against New Zealand in 2003 with three hundreds — all against Pakistan — and 11 half-centuries.