Cricket: Yuvraj Singh

The comeback of Yuvraj Singh

September, 18, 2012
9/18/12
7:56
PM ET

As the reigning International Cricket Council World Cup champion from 2011 and the winner of the 2012 ICC U-19 World Cup, India enters the ICC World Twenty20 with a chance at staking claim to the three tournament trophies at once. The feat would be impressive, but it would pale in comparison to the accomplishment made by Indian star Yuvraj Singh just to be able to participate in this tournament.

Without Yuvraj, India would not have raised the World Cup on home soil last year. Although the tournament title was won for all-time great batsman Sachin Tendulkar, it was accomplished largely through the efforts of Yuvraj. His dual contributions on the batting and bowling side saw him named player of the series.

[+] EnlargeYuvraj Singh
Satish Bate/Hindustan Times/Getty ImagesHow will Yuvraj Singh perform in his first tournament back since beating cancer?
It appeared that after years of teasing with promise since making his international debut as an 18-year-old in 2000, Yuvraj had finally come of age during India’s World Cup win in April 2011. But just as he seemed to be entering the prime of his career, a series of ailments dragged him down.

Signs that something wasn’t right with Yuvraj occurred during the World Cup, notably during a match against the West Indies, when he could be seen vomiting on the field during his 2-hour, 43-minute batting stint to make 113 runs. It was reported that he was suffering from a “stomach bug.” He missed the tour to the West Indies that took place a few months after the World Cup with a “chest infection.” He was deemed healthy enough to tour England later in the summer but suffered a broken finger during the second test match at Nottingham and wasn’t able to take any further part in the tour.

In the fall, he played two tests at home against the West Indies but withdrew himself from the one-day series that followed in November after a “non-malignant tumor” was found on his lung. It was initially believed he would be healthy enough to tour Australia in January, but those plans were shelved after he needed more treatment. It wasn’t until February that the full scope of what was affecting him was uncovered. The initial reports that his tumor was malignant. He had cancer.

Yuvraj traveled to the U.S., where he received chemotherapy treatment for mediastinal seminoma, a tumor between his lungs, at the IU Simon Cancer Center at Indiana University Medical Center in Indianapolis. Along the way, he received a note of encouragement from cancer survivor Lance Armstrong and was visited by former teammate and Indian bowling legend Anil Kumble. By April, Yuvraj was back in India, cancer-free and ready to work on getting back into the Indian side.

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For the best view, track these 12 players

September, 18, 2012
9/18/12
2:35
PM ET
Yes, cricket. Not the stodgy stereotype of the game, but the caffeinated, raucous variety that will appeal to our quick-trigger attention spans. The 2012 ICC World Twenty20 kicked off Tuesday in Sri Lanka with enough exciting storylines and high-octane drama to draw in the most indifferent of sports fans. Below are 12 players to watch as the tournament progresses.

Yuvraj Singh, India: He's India's Mario Lemieux, the comeback kid. Singh's story could be the highlight of the tournament. One of India's most heralded players, Singh is making a return to the game after battling a rare form of germ-cell cancer. After receiving chemotherapy in the U.S., Singh is back in the form of the game he's dominated in the past, including his unforgettable six sixes in one over against England in the 2007 ICC World Twenty20. If he plays as well as he has in the past, it's going to be a long tournament for bowlers.

[+] EnlargeChris Gayle
Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty ImagesChris Gayle's power has made quite an impression on foes -- and fans -- in the West Indies and beyond.
Chris Gayle, West Indies: Called "The King of the Twenty20," the Herculean all-rounder doesn't hit cricket balls, he pulverizes them into aerial spectacles. During a match this year, one of Gayle's monstrous sixers broke the nose of a 10-year-old girl in the stands. When Gayle visited her in the hospital, she actually said it was an honor to be hit by one of his shots. Gayle has set batting records in the Twenty20 format, including the most sixes in the latest Indian Premier League season. For Gayle, playing in Sri Lanka is like Chipper Jones at Shea Stadium; he dominates. He scored 333 runs in a test match there in 2010.

Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka: Malinga is the Boba Fett of cricket bowlers. Instead of collecting Wookiee scalps, the fast bowler collects wickets. Known as "The Slinga," Malinga is the only bowler to have taken four wickets in four deliveries and won the golden wicket in the 2011 Champions League Twenty20, when he had the highest wicket count in the tournament. With his trademark hair that fluctuates from blond streaks to Valderrama-chique, Malinga has had a rough go in the few months since the Indian Premier League ended. However, he's on home soil. He knows these fields better than anyone else. So be warned: The Slinga will strike back.

Brendon McCullum, New Zealand: The Kiwi wicketkeeper has the top spot in the Twenty20 batting rankings despite the fact that he would make a hobbit seem tall. Standing a diminutive 5-foot-7, McCullum exhibits Hack Wilson-like strength in putting up crazy power numbers. He slugged a 158 not out in the IPL inaugural season in 2008. Indeed, this one possesses the power of the ring.

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