Yuvraj means business

Yuvraj Sing his felicitated by the Hyderabad Cricket Association.-V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

“I am not here to prove anyone wrong. I am just trying to play to the best of my ability. I know it is a hard and long way ahead. But I am happy with the way I started the four-day (Duleep Trophy) match,” says Yuvraj Singh. By V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Playing in his first four-day match after recovering from a rare germ cell cancer, Yuvraj Singh showed good composure. He never gave even a hint that he had battled for life not long ago.

Yuvraj, who had already staged a comeback by playing for the Indian Twenty20 team after the biggest battle of his life with cancer, chose to turn out for North Zone in the Duleep Trophy semifinal against Central Zone. And given the circumstances, the decision was most appropriate too, to show that his skills and determination were still intact.

“It is a dream to play Test cricket for India again,” said the 30-year-old cricketer, even as he reminded one that he had “just recovered from a life-threatening cancer and was curious to know how the body would cope with the rigours of the demanding four-day format.”

So, not surprisingly, when Central Zone and North Zone clashed in the Duleep Trophy semifinal in Hyderabad recently, the focus was not on the teams, but on Yuvraj.

“I am not here to prove anyone wrong. I am just trying to play to the best of my ability. I know it is a hard and long way ahead. But I am happy with the way I started the four-day match,” said the flamboyant cricketer, who has now become an embodiment of fighting spirit.

The message that one got from his intense preparations before and during the Duleep Trophy was: Yuvraj means business.

“Definitely, my lung capacity had gone for a toss after the chemo (treatment). So, I am very eager to know how I will cope with the demands of the four-day format,” observed Yuvraj, who has played 37 Tests (1775 runs with three centuries) and 274 ODIs (8051 runs with 13 centuries).

However, when Yuvraj walked out to bat for North Zone, what was discernible was not only his confidence but also the mood to make the optimum use of the huge platform that he had.

When Yuvraj batted, he showed no discomfort. He gave the impression of one continuing his dream run with the willow. Such was the ease with which he essayed those flowing drives in the 'V' and his trademark pull shots, against both pace bowlers and spinners.

“Well, scoring a double century (208) in such a comeback match is really special. I enjoyed batting out there in the middle,” Yuvraj said later on. Barring a couple of occasions against the left-arm spinner, Murali Kartik, he was rarely tested.

“Some always engage in criticism, but the job of players like me is to keep performing with consistency,” said Yuvraj, whose next big dream is to get into the Indian Test team.

No doubt, the dashing all-rounder was largely helped by the curator, who had prepared a docile pitch that had nothing for either the fast bowlers or the spinners. However, by withstanding the scorching heat and scoring a double-century under pressure, Yuvraj made a big statement about his intentions.

If one thought the champion cricketer, who had a long stay at the wicket, would take a break when North Zone fielded, he was wrong. Yuvraj was there on the field right through the Central Zone innings and was often engaged in discussions with his captain Shikhar Dhawan and team-mates, especially when Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with a brilliant century, was frustrating North Zone. For the record, Bhuvneshwar’s 128 helped Central Zone take the first innings lead and enter the final.

Vikram Rathour, one of the two National selectors who watched the match (the other was Rajinder Singh Hans), shared a few moments with Yuvraj at the end of the day’s play almost on all days of the match.

“Definitely, the biggest challenge for me was to play a long innings. I am really glad that I could do that here,” Yuvraj said. “Well, there was some tiredness at the end of the first day (when he was unbeaten on 133), but that is understandable,” he added.

“There were a couple of times during the lunch break when we cracked jokes in the dressing room that by lunch time a T20 game would have got over,” Yuvraj remarked.

What next for Yuvraj?

“Right now, I am not thinking too far ahead. I have to keep working hard to realise many more dreams. Wish to take it game by game and be fit enough to play all formats of the game,” he said.

Yuvraj also touched upon the fact that he enjoys playing in Hyderabad where he has scored two ODI centuries against Australia and South Africa.

“Well, if I am destined to play Test cricket again it will happen again,” he said philosophically. He also stressed that he does not want to invite too much pressure by thinking of himself as a strike bowler of sorts. “I will be happy to be the fifth bowler who is so important even in Test cricket,” he said.

However, Yuvraj Singh, striving hard to make a comeback to Test cricket, was visibly pleased that he could “make an impact” on the cricketing fraternity.