Yuvraj Singh's return to Team India for the one-off T20 and the first three One-day Internationals against Australia has been welcomed by former India opener and NDTV expert Sunil Gavaskar. In an exclusive interview on Monday, Gavaskar said: "Yuvraj's inclusion will not only strengthen the team but will add variety as well."
Gavaskar praised Yuvraj's ability to brave the odds and impress the selectors with his current form. Yuvraj last played an ODI for India on January 27 against England at Dharamsala (Pics from the match) and was dropped subsequently due to a poor run of form and a lack of fitness. After undergoing a rigorous physical training camp in France, a fitter Yuvraj made a comeback to competitive cricket with a bang, scoring 123, 40 and 61 in three List A matches against the West Indies A, followed by a quick-fire 52 against the same opponent in a T20 game. He carried on with his good form in the Challenger Trophy for India Blue where he scored 84 against India Red and a 29 in the final against Delhi.
Gavaskar is happy that the national selectors have acknowledged the hard work Yuvraj has put in since July. "He has scored consistently and the pace of his innings has been impressive. Yuvraj's fielding has been outstanding and a big factor for the team," explained Gavaskar, who said India's fielding strength was one of the best in the world. (Also read: With focus on being fit, Yuvi didn't want mum around in France)
But where will Yuvraj bat? Gavaskar feels if Yuvraj gets 20-30 overs to bat, he can destroy any opposition but if he comes lower down, faces fewer deliveries and loses his wicket, he runs the risk of being labelled "a failure". "What is important is the strike rate and that's crucial to note," feels Gavaskar.
Yuvraj's comeback story should inspire Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. "One needs to make that extra effort to make a comeback. Zaheer (Khan) looks hungry as well and that's a good sign," said Gavaskar. In July-August, Zaheer and Yuvraj trained together for six weeks in a remote central French town to regain fitness.
Saying it was hard on Dinesh Karthik to lose his place in the Indian squad after a decent outing in the ICC Champions Trophy, Gavaskar stressed competition for places was "intense" and no one could take his place for granted. "In the last two-three years, the competition for slot has been fierce and that's why India are the No. 1 team in the world. It was hard on Karthik because he was a keeper too. I am sure he will take it on the chin and move on," Gavasakar said.