Yuvraj Singh is no stranger to comebacks. He has recovered from numerous setbacks in the course of his 13-year long international career. But the one he embarked upon yesterday by fighting his way into the Indian team for the lone T20 and first three one-day internationals against Australia will be the one he will cherish for a long time.
The dashing batsman was in Mumbai yesterday when Sandeep Patil & Co picked the squad for the Oz challenge, but, Yuvraj was not unduly worried as he had a hint of getting picked. But once it emerged that he was part of the side, his phone began ringing incessantly, so much so that it was not long before the battery ran out.
"I am happy the selectors have reposed faith in me. Now, I have to deliver. I am looking forward to doing well for the team," Yuvraj told MiD DAY. The left-hander last played for India in January this year. Some uneven performances saw him getting the axe. But the 31-year-old who is hardly amongst those to sit and brood over lost opportunities accepted the challenge and began training with renewed vigour. He underwent a rigorous six-week training programme in Brive La Gaillarde, a market town in France.
"The schedule of fitness really worked. I still follow that schedule," Yuvraj said about the time he spent in the European city. "My footwork and timing are alright. The bat swing is in order as well. That is why I got runs against the West Indies 'A' team. That gave me confidence. Now, I have to capitalise on the opportunity."
Yuvraj was the leading scorer for India 'A' in the 50-over format against the Windies, amassing 224 runs from three matches. His knocks included one century and a fifty at an average of 74.66. He also scored a half-century for India Blue in the Challenger Trophy. Yuvraj's return to the side coincides with the Indian middle-order wearing a reasonably settled look.
That is why he does not want to interfere with the position that the team would offer him. "It is up to the team management where to play me. I know I have to do well," he said. Yuvraj will be in Kolkata for a function organised by a local cancer foundation today. Actress Manisha Koirala will be there too. (Where will Yuvi bat? wonders Sunil Gavaskar)
The selectors made a total of four changes from the team that triumphed at the Champions Trophy in England. Apart from Yuvraj, Ambati Rayudu, Mohammed Shami and Jaydev Unadkat have found their way into the squad. The players left out include Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan and Umesh Yadav. Seniors like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh have once again been left out.
Fast bowlers Shami and Unadkat have been rewarded for their good performances in the five-match series in Zimbabwe. Yadav's omission is surprising even though he proved expensive in the Challenger Trophy. Wicketkeeper Karthik was overlooked in favour of Rayudu, who averaged more than 50 in Zimbabwe. Vijay could not retain his place while Irfan Pathan is injured. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin replaced Parvez Rasool, who misses out after the Zimbabwe stint alongside Cheteshwar Pujara, Mohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane.
Set for oz challenge
> Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain)
> Shikhar Dhawan
> Rohit Sharma
> Virat Kohli
> Yuvraj Singh
> Suresh Raina
> Ravindra Jadeja
> Ravichandran Ashwin
> Bhuvneshwar Kumar
> Ishant Sharma
> Vinay Kumar
> Amit Mishra
> Ambati Rayudu
> Mohammed Shami
> Jaydev Unadkat