MUMBAI Batting great Sachin Tendulkar has come out strongly in support of the beleaguered Yuvraj Singh after the left-hander's poor performance with the bat during India's loss to Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 final on Sunday.
Yuvraj has been made something of a scapegoat for India's defeat after he used up 21 deliveries to score 11 runs, which robbed his side of momentum towards the end of their innings.
The 32-year-old, who hit England's Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over in the 2007 World Twenty20 and was the architect of India's 50-over World Cup win in 2011, looked a pale shadow of himself, even struggling to rotate the strike.
"It is the unpredictable nature of the game that makes cricket such an exciting sport," Tendulkar, who retired from the game last November, said in a post on his Facebook page.
"As cricketers, we always enjoy the applause when we succeed but it is the support and encouragement from fans, during tough times, that we appreciate the most."
Yuvraj was the focal point of all discussions in the cricket-crazy country after the Indian juggernaut in Bangladesh came to a screeching halt on Sunday with a six-wicket hammering by Sri Lanka at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
There were even reports in the local media that Yuvraj's house in Chandigarh was pelted with stones by angry fans.
Tendulkar, the most prolific international run-scorer and one of the country's greatest unifiers, reminded the fans of Yuvraj's past contributions.
"All of us took pride in the heroics of Yuvi when we won the T20 World Cup in 2007 and his outstanding contribution in the ODI World Cup win in 2011 will always be cherished," he wrote.
"Last evening (Sunday), Yuvi had a tough day and he can be criticised. But he should not be crucified nor should he be written off."
Yuvraj, who has not been part of India's test and 50-over sides in the recent past, made an emotional return to the game in 2012 after a lengthy fight with a rare germ cell cancer in his lungs.
The diagnosis came after he endeared the whole nation with his all-round performances in the 2011 World Cup, when he was named the player of the tournament as India triumphed on home soil. He later dedicated the victory to Tendulkar, his mentor.
Tendulkar backed Yuvraj to come out even stronger after the latest setback.
"I have been an admirer of Yuvi's indomitable Spirit which has overcome many challenges, both on and off the field," Tendulkar added.
"Knowing Yuvi's determination and ability to fight adversities, he will emerge stronger, proving his critics wrong, yet again.
"Yuvi, one off day cannot undermine your tremendous contribution in many sweet memories over the years. You may be down today but you are far from being out."
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Nick Mulvenney)
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