Hyderabad: Comeback man Yuvraj Singh hit a double century to take North Zone to 451 runs vs Central Zone in the semi-final of the Duleep Trophy. In reply, Central Zone crawled to a paltry 146/5 at stumps on second day of the Duleep Trophy semi-final here in Hyderabad.
Talking to reporters after the quick fire century on his return to first-class cricket, Yuvraj Singh said, "I didn't think that I would last so long.
"The ground has been lucky for me as I have played five matches here and made four centuries."
He jokingly also said, "The next tournament should be in Hyderabad only."
Yuvraj's mother Shabnam Singh, talking exclusively to NDTV after the achievement, said, "Aaj bhee Yuvi ka sapna test cricket mein 100 banana hai. Usay lagta hai ki usske paas abhitak 15 test 100s hone chahiye thay." ("Even today Yuvi's ultimate dream is to make a Test hundred. He still feels that he should have made at least 15 Test hundreds till now.)
Yuvraj slammed 208 runs before Central Zone bowler Murali Kartik took a return catch to dismiss him. He scored at an impressive rate of 86.00. He took 241 deliveries and hit 33 fours and three sixes.
Central then crawled to 146 for five in 58 overs when stumps were drawn. They still need 306 runs to get an all-important first innings lead which now looks highly unlikely.
The Central openers Tanmay Srivastava and Vineet Saxena sedately added 64 runs in 30-odd overs but their defensive approach only increased the pressure on the team.
While Srivastava was run-out after making 23 off 89 balls, Saxena's painstaking innings of 33 made off 115 balls ended when Amit Mishra got him caught by Yuvraj.
However it was Delhi speedster Parvinder Awana who did the crucial job of removing the in-form Rajasthan duo of Ashok Menaria and Robin Bist.
On Sunday, Yuvraj made a brilliant comeback into first-class arena as he smashed an unbeaten century for North Zone against Central on the first day of a semi-final match in the Duleep Trophy.
At stumps, North were in commanding position having scored 346 for 4, riding on Yuvraj's superb unbeaten 133 while skipper Shikhar Dhawan also made his presence felt with an innings of 121.
The innings will certainly end any doubts whatsoever about Yuvraj's fitness and his ability to withstand the rigours of longer version of the game after recovering from rare germ cell cancer. He played only 152 deliveries during his knock on Sunday and hit 20 boundaries and two huge sixes off discarded India veteran Murali Kartik on Sunday. This is Yuvraj's 19th first-class century but certainly one he would remember for a long time to come.
Yuvraj, 30, who was judged man of the tournament in India's 50-over World Cup triumph last year, was treated for the cancer between his lungs in the United States earlier this year.
He returned after energy-sapping chemotherapy treatment in April and by August had been fast-tracked into the Indian team for the recent World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
Yuvraj ended the tournament with 66 runs in four innings and claimed eight wickets in five matches, the second highest among Indian bowlers after seamer Lakshmipathy Balaji's nine wickets.
India, the 2007 champions, won four of their five matches but failed to reach the semi-finals of the event eventually won by the West Indies.
Yuvraj's double-century is certain to put him in line for a recall when the four-Test series against England starts in Ahmedabad on November 15.
He has not played Test cricket since November last year when he turned out for two matches against the touring West Indies.
Yuvraj has played 37 Tests since his international debut in 2000, scoring 1,775 runs at an average of 34.80 with three centuries. He has also claimed nine Test wickets with his left-arm spin.
Brief Scores: North Zone 451 all out in 119.2 overs (Yuvraj Singh 208, Shikhar Dhawan 121, M Kartik 4/120, P Kumar 4/92). Central Zone 146/5 (V Saxena 33, Parvinder Awana 2/29).
(With agency inputs)