The indefatigable spirit of Yuvraj

Updated: 26 July 2012 22:43 IST

Having won the biggest battle of them all, the battle against a rare form of cancer, it would have been easy for Yuvraj Singh to struggle to retain focus in what is after all no more than a contest between bat and ball, not a matter of life and death.

The indefatigable spirit of Yuvraj
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Hambantota:

Having won the biggest battle of them all, the battle against a rare form of cancer, it would have been easy for Yuvraj Singh to struggle to retain focus in what is after all no more than a contest between bat and ball, not a matter of life and death.

It is to the credit of the young man, tough as they come, that he chose to stop brooding and get back to doing what he does best at the first possible instance. For more than a decade and a half now, cricket alone has driven Yuvraj. In his second coming, so to say, Yuvraj ought to be an even better and more effective cricketer, simply because he has faced, handled and overcome the ultimate challenge.

It feels as if it was only the other day that he smashed Brett Lee past mid-off and sank to his knees in the quarterfinals of the World Cup at Ahmedabad when India ended Australia's reign as champions, that he swaggered to the podium to pick up his award after that tumultuous April 2 night at the Wankhede Stadium in the final against Sri Lanka.

Yuvraj and his team-mates and the support staff alone know just how much he suffered, physically, during India's triumphant campaign. He was wracked by spells of coughing, threw up repeatedly, had bouts of dizziness but put them all down to the tension and nerves of a World Cup campaign that had to end in victory, and nothing else. It wasn't until later, when he was diagnosed with cancer, that Yuvraj's constant battle with his rebelling body assumed mythical proportions.

Between then and now, however, life has changed beyond belief for Yuvraj. His travails continued in the Test match arena even as his health deteriorated. Only after he was left out of the third Test against the West Indies, ironically at the Wankhede Stadium, was the cancer correctly diagnosed and lengthy, spirit-breaking treatment including sessions of chemotherapy began.

The outpouring of support, concern and love from his countrymen - from team-mates to the man of the street - apart from his own never-say-die spirit went a long way towards Yuvraj's recovery and rehabilitation. Since his return to India from the United States, he has started his own YouWe Foundation, and appeared on public platforms to raise cancer awareness and to inspire hundreds of others who have been struck down by the disease.

Quietly, too, he has been working on his fitness - working on his skills will follow thereafter - as he seeks to return to the stage he has graced with such authority. He is some way short of being 100% fit and a stated desire to return to the Indian team for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September might appear a little far-fetched, but there is no denying that his rehabilitation has been progressing quite well.

The biggest shot in the arm came a few days back when India's national selectors picked him in the long list of 30 probables for the World T20. Some might dismiss it as a populist, sentimental call, but in picking him in their 30-man list, Krishnamachari Srikkanth and his panel has sent out a significant message. To Yuvraj.

Yuvraj's last competitive fixture was in November 2011. It's only in the last few weeks that he has got down to light training, not unaware of the need to shed weight, to regain strength and power, and to rememorise the motor skills that have made him such a delightful allround cricketer. It's debatable if, in the two months between now and the start of the World T20, Yuvraj will be fully fit and ready for the rigours of international cricket, but by including him in the probables' list, the selectors have told Yuvraj that he has been, and will continue to be, a crucial component of India's limited-overs wheel, at the very least.

It's no coincidence that during both of India's World Cup wins in the last five years - the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007 and last year's 50-over World Cup on the subcontinent - Yuvraj was on top of his game. With his ball-striking skills, the ability to sneak in several overs of more-than-competent left-arm spin and his athletic fielding which has slipped a touch in recent times, Yuvraj is every limited-overs captain's dream. Quite obviously an impact player who relishes the big occasion, Yuvraj has translated his unquestioned potential into memorable performances in coloured clothing and, still only 30, has plenty of cricket left in him.

Picking him in the long list is the selectors' way of letting Yuvraj know that very much continues to be in their scheme of things. It's doubtful if, when it comes to naming the final 15 in less than a month's time, they will take a punt with Yuvraj unless they are convinced he is completely primed for international cricket, but already, they have done enough to further lift the indefatigable spirit of the man who has come to become a role model now for deeds beyond the field of play.

Topics : Cricket Lasith Malinga Kevin Pietersen ICC World Cup, 2011 Anil Kumble Gary Kirsten Yuvraj Singh
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