Cover Story: Yuraj Singh & MS Dhoni

Super Bats

HAMMER HANDED: When Dhoni hits, the ball stays hit ARTFUL DODGER: Yuvraj picks gaps with ease
Their methods are simple, but styles markedly different. One uses the bat like a sledgehammer to knock the opposition, another like a stiletto to bleed the enemy. They are Indian cricket’s twin sensations

By Sayantan Chakravarty

Statistics will tell only a part of the story. What they won’t is how admiring moms and doting daughters will put off their high-heeled afternoon waltz in shopping malls to watch two young men of India weave dreams with their bats. Statistics will never spell how calm men in their mid-70s will pump their fists in the air, and clap thunderously when the two are on song. Statistics—and these two have very impressive ones indeed—will never quite capture the admiration and the joy that two 24-year-olds have begun to bring to millions of Indian homes and cricket lovers across the world. 

Neither will they reveal how some of us frequent-fliers will not think much of darting half way across the globe (these days you just don’t go miles to watch them play, but all the way) hoping that one of them would strike up a 50 or 75 at less than run-a-ball. Statistics can also hide so much that is electric, and momentous, they’ll never, for instance, tell us how a President in uniform will shimmy up to one of these smiling assassins, the one with the long locks and the springy walk, and tell him that the young man should keep his hair.

FLYING COLOURS: Dhoni and Yuvraj are keeping the tricolour flying high 
They are part of a resurgent India that is telling the world that there is nothing quite as beautiful, and re-assuring as a young man’s self-belief

But statistics are important. They tell us that today one man has the highest strike rate (108.73) of all in one-day matches, and also the best batting average (53.95) of them all. They tell us that more often than not when both young men bat well, Team India goes on to win. They are match-winners with a cause.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni from Ranchi with Bjorn-Borg like locks and Yuvraj Singh with the crew cut from Chandigarh are two of a kind. With their stupendous batting that helped India flatten Pakistan 4-1 in the recently concluded one-day series (Hutch Cup) and before that in the 6-1 annihilation of Sri Lanka in India in the one-day matches, the two have become symbols of a surging, confident India. Dhoni was the Player of the Series against Sri Lanka, Yuvraj got the same honour in the Hutch Cup.

They have lifted the spirits of a nation, displaced the Sensex as the number one subject of conversation in drawing rooms and TV channels. They are part of a resurgent India that is telling the world that there is nothing quite as beautiful, and re-assuring as a young man’s self-belief.

They back themselves to the hilt, these two certainly do. One man is often seen stepping down the pitch and hitting a fast bowler out of the ground. Another will milk anything outside off-stump through covers. It’s their style that is refreshing, uncomplicated, winning. They chase down formidable totals on the scoreboards with the same ease with which they turn singles into twos. A few years ago an Indian batting line-up facing an asking-rate of more than eight runs an over at the halfway stage of a chase would collapse like nine pins. Not any more. Time and again in recent weeks, against quality opposition like Sri Lanka and Pakistan, the two have not just batted India out of trouble, they have also won matches handsomely for the country.


March 2006

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