Chris Waters: Yuvraj Singh proves age no barrier as he silences the doubters

EVERYONE remembers the name of the first Indian batsman to play for Yorkshire.

India's Yuvraj Singh raises his bat and helmet to celebrate scoring hundred runs against England in Cuttack on Thursday. Picture: AP/Aijaz Rahi

The great Sachin Tendulkar was also the club’s first overseas signing back in 1992.

But the name of the second Indian batsman to play for the club is perhaps not so readily recalled.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

After all, Yuvraj Singh pulled up few trees during his time at the county in 2003, scoring just 495 runs in 21 games at an average of 20.62.

Yuvraj was only 22-years-old at the time, had yet to make his Test debut and had managed only one hundred in his first 73 one-day internationals.

Now he has 14 one-day international hundreds to his name after a career-best 150 against England in Cuttack yesterday, which helped India win the three-match series with one game left in Kolkata on Sunday.

Much has happened to Yuvraj since his underwhelming spell in a Yorkshire shirt.

Who could forget the six sixes in an over at the inaugural World T20 in 2007, when England’s Stuart Broad was the unfortunate bowler in Durban?

Who could forget, too, his performances at the 50-over World Cup in 2011, when he was man of the tournament as India gained yet more silverware?

But Yuvraj’s world cruelly came crashing down with the diagnosis of a rare form of cancer, from which his subsequent recovery has been both an inspiration and a testament to his courage and character.

Although able to resume his international career, Yuvraj understandably seemed not to be the batsman he once was, and his star had waned in the Indian firmament.

So much so, his recall for the current series – he had not played a one-day international since December 2013 – engendered disquiet among those who felt that India should be building for the 2019 World Cup in England rather than returning to a man who is now 35.

Yuvraj had averaged only 18 in his previous 19 one-day internationals dating back to the start of 2012, and many regarded his recall as a recalcitrant step and an obstacle to youth.

But not only should they be eating their words after yesterday’s performance, they might even be forced to concede that Yuvraj could yet be around to enjoy one last hurrah on these shores at the World Cup in two years’ time.

For his recall in the face of such critical voices, the left-hander owes much to Virat Kohli, the India captain who pressed for his inclusion.

Such is the credit and kudos possessed by Kohli, the world’s best batsman, that his personal whims are practically the equivalent of a papal decree.

After that rarity of rarities yesterday, a failure for the star man when he departed for eight as India crashed to 25-3 after losing the toss, Yuvraj repaid Kohli’s faith handsomely as he dug the hosts out trouble in the company of former captain MS Dhoni, who is also 35 years young.

When the pair were finally separated, Yuvraj going caught behind driving at Chris Woakes, their stand had realised 256 in 39 overs, the second-highest for the fourth-wicket in one-day international history.

Dhoni fell in the closing stages for 134, leaving England to chase more than they have ever chased in one-day cricket.

Despite a timely hundred from captain Eoin Morgan, who made 102 from 81 balls in an innings that emphatically reasserted his authority after a run of disappointing scores, they fell 16 runs short as India backed up their victory in the Test series prior to Christmas.

As well as Morgan and Dhoni played, with Dhoni striking his 200th ODI six for good measure, the hero of the day was Yuvraj, who looked in terrific order right from the start.

His pull shots were controlled, his straight drives flew like tracer bullets, and there was a languid air about his batting that belied its destructive power.

Looking lean and hungry, like a man half his age, he treated the crowd to a stylish exhibition.

Yuvraj eclipsed his previous best ODI score of 139 with a disdainful six over long-on off Ben Stokes, who had a contrastingly miserable day, conceding 79 runs in nine wicket-less overs, scoring only one run with the bat and then getting a painful whack in the face when a ball boy threw the ball back to him on the boundary when Stokes was not looking.

For England, it was a tale of what might have been, as well as recognition that India are by no means a one-man band.

If Kohli does not get you, there are plenty of others who can rise to the task, as Yuvraj and Dhoni so memorably proved.

Perhaps the last word should go to the first Indian batsman to play for Yorkshire.

Sachin Tendulkar tweeted: “What an amazing partnership between a superstar and a rockstar!! We enjoyed the show:) @YUVSTRONG12 @msdhoni #INDvENG”