Mumbai: It's a completely transformed Yuvraj Singh we have seen since his comeback to international cricket (against New Zealand in September) after fighting a rare germ cell cancer. The southpaw has certainly become more mature, more solid in his technique and fitter.
Though Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara were the highlights of the Indian batting in the just-concluded first Test against England at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, Yuvraj curbed his flamboyance and aggression to make a useful contribution with his well-made 74 in the only innings he got to bat in that match.
Yuvraj's fitness to sustain for five days after cancer was the only doubt the selectors may have had before blooding him into the Test squad. But he did not disappoint. Yuvraj slammed a double ton (208) for North Zone in a Duleep Trophy match after returning from the World T20 in Sri Lanka. He then scored a valuable 59 and took five wickets against England during a three-day warm-up match at the Brabourne Stadium last month.
Yuvraj's father Yograj, himself a former India Test cricketer, is fully convinced that his son will rewrite history. "Cancer was only an interval in his career, like how you have in a movie. The movie starts again and in the end the hero triumphs. It will be the same in the case of Yuvraj. He will rewrite history and will give a fitting reply to all his critics. There is still a lot to come from him," Yograj told MiD DAY on the sidelines of the book release of 'Yuvi' by veteran journalist and columnist Makarand Waingankar at the Khar Gymkhana yesterday. India's 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev was the guest of honour along with Dilip Vengsarkar and Balvinder Singh Sandhu.
Vengsarkar, under whom Yuvraj learnt the nuances of the game at his Oval Maidan academy, wants to see Yuvraj cement his Test spot soon. "I am disappointed that he is not a regular member of the Indian Test team. I hope he becomes one very soon now. Some of the shots he plays would have made even Sir Garry Sobers proud," said the former India chief selector.
'Always been fearless'
The doting father revealed the reason why Yuvraj could successfully triumph over cancer. "I have always been fearless in my life. My father taught me the same. And I also ensured Yuvraj lives with no fear. Often people in the family would tell me to go slow on him... not be very strict. But I believe in being brought up the tough way.
"Everyone will die one day, but you cannot live with that fear always. If you accept it (death), life will be more beautiful.
"People will say many things about Yuvraj. But everything happens with the permission of the Almighty. Yes, the prayers of people worked, their blessings helped him recover.
"I was confident Yuvraj wouldn't die because he is a fighter," he signed off.