NEW DELHI: Thursday’s ICC Champions Trophy semi-final between India and Bangladesh in Birmingham will carry a little more for one member of the defending champions’ squad: Yuvraj Singh, who will play his 300th ODI.
He will be the fifth Indian cricketer – and 19th overall – to reach the landmark. Sachin Tendulkar leads the list with 463 ODI appearances, followed by Rahul Dravid(340), Mohammad Azharuddin (334) and Sourav Ganguly (308).
Yuvraj, 35, has been part of several successful Indian campaigns at ICC events, topmost of which was his star all-round run during the 2011 World Cup. In his debut series, he was a crucial member of the Indian team that reached the final of the ICC KnockOut in Nairobi, and three years later he was also part of the team that reached the World Cup final.
The left-hand batsman made his international debut in an ODI against Kenya in 2000 during the ICC KnockOut but did not bat until the next game, when he dazzled with 84 off 80 balls to help knock Australia out of the tournament. As his ODI career flourished, he played many match-winning innings which made him into one of the team’s middle-order pillars during the 2000s; among his memorable knocks are an unbeaten 50 to help beat Pakistan during the 2003 World Cup, 62 off 72 balls in the semi-final of the 2002 Champions Trophy in Colombo, 69 in the final of the NatWest Trophy at Lord’s in 2002, and a sequence of 82*, 79* and 107* in Pakistan in 2006. Then came his crowning glory – the 2011 World Cup, where he was a pivotal figure for MS Dhoni’s victorious team with 362 runs at an average of 90.50 and 15 wickets resulting in Yuvraj being adjudged Player of the Tournament.
Earlier this year, against England in January, Yuvraj scored his first ODI century since the 2011 World Cup when he smashed a career-best 150 off 127 balls. That series forced his inclusion in India’s squad for the ongoing Champions Trophy, and in the team’s first match against Pakistan he was Man of the Match for a game-changing 53 off 32 balls.
Scores of 7 and 23 not out followed against Sri Lanka and South Africa, the latter taking India into the semi-finals and setting up Thursday’s clash with Bangladesh nicely for the man who now stands on the brink of another ODI milestone.
Next in line for 300 ODIs is Dhoni, for whom this will be No 290. India’s next assignment after the Champions Trophy is a tour of the West Indies which encompasses five ODIs a one T20I.