- This is now Yuvraj’s fifth comeback after the 2011 World Cup heroics
- It hasn’t been easy for the 35-year-old to stave off competition
- The selectors have thrown another lifeline at him to resuscitate his India career
MUMBAI: After Mohinder Amaranth, it is Yuvraj Singh, it seems, who can now safely be labelled as the ‘comeback man’ of Indian cricket.
What of course, helped his cause in making another comeback into the limited-overs team was the fact that India still haven’t found a perfect man for the No. 5 and No. 6 slot. While MS Dhoni has shown an inclination to bat at No. 4, Suresh Raina has failed to hold onto his ODI spot, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav both look like they need more time to seal their place. The choice of returning to Yuvraj’s experience as a finisher must have also been inspired by the new limited-overs skipper Virat Kohli, who once made his IPL franchise shell out Rs 14 crore to buy Yuvi.
The veteran batsman’s career was at an all-time high in April 2011 after he slammed 362 runs in nine games @ 90.50, and took 15 wickets @ 25.13 with his left-arm spin to help India lift the World Cup. Fate, however, had a cruel twist in store for the star just after his hour of glory as he discovered that he was suffering from cancer.
What followed was an emotional journey to recovery, which involved a trip to the US for treatment, as ‘Yuvi,’ goaded by the wishes of millions of his fans, jostled for life. He came back into the Indian team in September 2012, but since then, it has always been a fight for survival for him. What has been on show are sporadic glimpses of vintage Yuvi fans loved watching, rather than consistent performances.
This is now his fifth comeback after the 2011 World Cup heroics – second in ODIs and third in T20Is. In fact, with young, talented batsmen springing up every now and then, it hasn’t been easy for the 35-year-old to stave off competition.
He has always attracted a high price in the IPL, but then subsequently failed to justify that with his performance. If the RCB paid Rs 14 crore for him in 2014, the Delhi Dare devils shelled out Rs 16 crore for the middle-order bat the next year. But when Sunrisers Hyderabad bought him for Rs 7 crore in 2016, it was reflected the dwindling fortunes of the man who once smashed Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over.
Last year, though, was perhaps the best for Yuvraj in a long time. He staged a successful return to the Indian T20 team in Australia, and was then part of an IPL-winning side. The Ranji Trophy also saw his bat bloom in full glory. After finally joining the club of married men, Yuvraj confessed that it was a year which re-ignited his enthusiasm for the bat and ball. “It was a year that made me a better cricketer because I was able to make a realistic assessment of my game. I discovered that my passion had not ebbed a bit,” he said in an interview.
At this stage of his career, if a cricketer is willing to travel to remote places like Lahli and Bilaspur to play in domestic cricket and slog for hours in the gym to work on his fitness, you know that he wants to play more. It’s apparent that the dashing bat wants to go out on a high, and on his own terms. Comebacks get tougher with age, but Yuvraj is ready for a fight. The selectors have thrown another lifeline at him to resuscitate his India career, and it’s now up to this Punjab batsman to make the most of it.