Yuvraj Singh has had a tumultuous past couple of years battling cancer and his lack of form and fitness. However, nine months after being dropped from the Indian Test and ODI squads, the 31-year-old has staged one of the most memorable comebacks in sporting history. The national selection panel, headed by Sandeep Patil has recalled Yuvraj for the sole Twenty20 game and the first three ODIs in the seven-match series against Australia, which begins on October 10. For Yuvraj, it has been a story of sacrifices.
The person who is most pleased to see Yuvraj back in Indian colours is his mother and source of inspiration, Shabnam Singh. "He (Yuvraj) has been working very hard for this and I am extremely happy that he is back. He deserves to play for India for all the effort he has put in to his comeback," said Shabnam in an exclusive chat with NDTV.
Battling poor form and an injury-prone body, Yuvraj underwent a rigorous six-week programme in the rather obscure town of Brive La Gaillarde in central France in a bid to claw his way back to the Indian team. In July-August, Yuvraj trained under high performance trainer Tim Exeter, who has worked with Manchester United star Ryan Giggs. Yuvraj's mother also revealed that the middle-order batsman prevented her from traveling to France, so as to avoid getting pampered.
"He was worried that I would go there and 'spoil' him with my food so he asked me not to come. He was adamant that he had gone to France to train and lose weight," said a joyous Shabnam. Yuvraj is known to be a massive aficionado of his mom's cooking and the urge must have been hard to resist. Despite the fact that she 'missed him a lot' when Yuvraj was in France, his mother is glad that it was worth the effort.
Yuvraj has earned his place back in the national side not on sentiment but on merit. Following his fitness camp in France in July-August, he impressed the selectors as the leading run-scorer in India A's one-day series against West Indies A. He made 224 runs from three matches with a strike rate of 108.73, including a match-winning 123 in the first game. More recently, he led India Blue to the Challenger Trophy title, scoring 113 runs in two matches.
A major change in Yuvraj seems to be his fitness, something he lacked (understandably) after his recovery from cancer last year. "Yuvraj went to France to work on his fitness and get back to the basics," said his mother. On the evidence of the past few weeks, he has done just that.
His attitude on the pitch also seems to have changed from a jovial entertainer to a focused cricketer. His mother, however, refutes this distinction by saying, "I have not seen a different Yuvraj. You will always see a very determined Yuvi. When he falls down, he gets up and brushes it aside."
Shabnam pays tribute to her son's perseverance by adding that "nothing excites him more than cricket". One can only hope that this time Yuvraj Singh is back for good.