IPL 10

IPL 10: Unburdened of pressure, Yuvraj Singh is showing that age has nothing to do with ability

The 35-year-old rolled back the years with his clean display of hitting on Wednesday.

To watch Yuvraj Singh bat, at the peak of his ability and form, is a thing of beauty and art.

It is an art, though, which we thought we had lost to age, injuries and time. Especially on April 6, 2014. There — in the final of the World T20 against Sri Lanka — Yuvraj Singh had stuttered to a 21-ball 11. He was criticised. He was humiliated. He was banished. He was... many thought... finished.

Even last year, when he was called up to the Indian squad and played the Indian Premier League, he seemed a shadow of his earlier self. Sure, there would be those big, clean drives, the bat moving at an elegant arc, the ball making that sweet sound off the bat before disappearing into orbit. But these seemed few and far between. Yuvraj Singh, the maverick, the king, the cleanest hitter of a cricket ball in India much before the likes of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli had come on to the scene, was gone, or so it seemed.

But Yuvraj was never gone. He had retreated into the shadows, biding his time. Waiting. Practising. And soon he did arrive. Against England at the start of the year in the One-Day International series, he met an old ally in Dhoni and went berserk. A hundred and fifty runs arrived in just 127 balls.

But it was in the Indian Premier League on Thursday that proved just what makes Yuvraj Singh so tantalisingly beautiful to watch. Just before he came in to the bat, the broadcasters ran a poll asking, “Who do you think should come in to bat next?”.

Yuvraj was the overwhelming winner with 70%.

Sure, it wasn’t a completely flawless innings. He was lucky not to have inside-edged a Aniket Choudhary delivery on to his stumps and was dropped by Sreenath Aravind in the deep.

But there was so much to admire. Like his cover drives through the line. Nothing too complex, too complicated. The bat coming down in one gorgeous arc. Meeting the ball right in the centre. Dispatching it to the boundary line and sometimes beyond.

Image credit: Ron Gaunt/Sportzpics
Image credit: Ron Gaunt/Sportzpics

The Royal Challengers Bangalore’s bowlers thought they could get him on the short ball. Of course, they could have but Aravind dropped it and with it the match. Yuvraj just kept on playing his beautiful swivel pull. His hands are so good to watch. Moving so fast, the bat speed flashing by in a blur. Yuvraj may not be the strongest man in Indian cricket but his bat speed and fast hands can hit the ball out of any stadium.

Even his captain David Warner was in the mood for throwbacks.

“That’s the Yuvi I used to watch on TV,” Warner said. “Superb stroke-play, hitting it clean, and, you know what, he backed himself. And that’s the way we want him to keep playing.”

You can sense that a lot of Yuvraj’s gameplay is about confidence. When he’s in the best of nick, everything just moves together. Head, bat, feet, arms - they all sync and there’s destruction. But when he’s not in the best of form, things go awry. That’s what we saw earlier. But thankfully he managed to get over that.

“My batting has been up and down over the couple of years, but I am feeling really good at the moment. I just need to continue this good run forward,” said the left-hander on his 27-ball 62. “The comeback into the Indian team has really helped me. I am more free in my mind and I am not worrying anymore about making a comeback. I am just going to play according to the situation and express myself.”

A free Yuvraj, unburdened by pressure, is a Yuvraj Singh at the prime of his ability. And that’s not good news for the seven other IPL franchises.

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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.