New Delhi: Like any Yuvraj Singh fan, I can't wait to see him back on the field, hitting those sky-tearing sixes, flying at point and seeing off batsmen with some pie-cracking bowling.
His fighting abilities have become legendary. But for me it was during the ICC 2003 World Cup against Pakistan, when Yuvraj walked out to bat after the dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar.
I was preparing for my Class XII final exams, but it didn't matter that day. I was nervous like each one of you when Tendulkar walked back. Although he had put India in a commanding position, 96 runs were still needed with six wickets remaining. Yuvraj, all of 22 years, joined Rahul Dravid. The pressure was not of the runs needed to be scored, the pressure was of 'It's-an-India-vs-Pakistan-match-and-you-just-cannot-take-it-easy'.
Yuvraj's maturity, his aggression and the ability to play match-winning knocks under pressure just bowled me over (Yes, yes..I had missed his 2002 NatWest knock...damn studies!). He was a special member of the Indian team, though a bit more colourful and temperamental than the media and his critics would have liked. But as long as he was winning the matches, which he did on many occasions, it's alright.
His consistency and credentials as a Test player still concern Indian cricket but his presence in the team means a lot. When out in the middle, each and every fan believes that he can guide India to victory from the trickiest spots.
Many cricket experts believe Yuvraj is making a hasty return after his battle against cancer and that he may not still be fit (physically and/or for international cricket). The truth is no one better than Yuvraj knows if he is ready to take it on. If he can win you the World Cup battling with the disease, he can surely do better after completely recovering from it.
But even if it's an emotional or desperate decision on the part of Yuvraj and the selectors (which I don't believe it is), his return is crucial to the Indian cricket team that has lost two of his most successful players in the last 8 months.
After Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman's retirement, there are these suggestions that Sachin Tendulkar must call it a day too. Any good team is a combination of experience and exuberance, planning and execution, traditional and dynamic players. There might be a young player waiting for that spot, but the bigger question is, do we have an answer for the experience that he brings to the table? No.
The World T20 will be the right platform for Yuvraj to finally announce his arrival, though he is officially making a comeback against New Zealand in the two T20 matches. It's important, both for him and the team, that he gets to assess himself for the grueling season ahead.
Let's be realistic and not expect him to make a Stuart Broad out of any other bowler. But we know that he is a big-match player who comes with some special performances when India need them the most.