Yuvraj makes his point in style
Yuvraj Singh has played much more fluent and attractive innings in his career than the 74 he made on Friday against England at the Motera. But the knock assumed considerable significance, considering it was first Test innings after returning to the Indian side, waging a winning battle against cancer.
The second Test against the West Indies at Kolkata in November, 2011, was his last Test before he was diagnosed with cancer. The Punjab left-hander walked into the middle amidst loud cheers on Thursday, and his tentativeness against Graeme Swann was quite understandable. Perhaps, it was more an indication of the doubts in his mind than any real technical frailty.
But towards the end of the first day, England skipper Alastair Cook did a favour to Yuvraj, taking the new ball in the 87th over and allowing him a few overs against the pacers. It helped Yuvraj to face deliveries that came on to the bat a tad more quickly, and he exploited the chance to calm the initial nerves.
Yuvraj walked in a more confident man on the second day, and in the company of a rock-solid Cheteshwar Pujara the southpaw waded into the English bowlers with gusto. Fortune also was in his favour as umpire Tony Hill turned down a huge leg-before shout from Swann that on a different day could have got an affirmative nod from the umpire.
Past that moment, Yuvraj never gave any chance to the opposition, tackling the English pacers and spinners with a great deal of conviction. The brimming confidence of the batsman was on full view when he took on Swann soon, slugging the offie for a four (sweep to mid-wicket) and a six (a lovely lofted shot over mid-off) in the space of three balls.
It was not just Swann that Yuvraj mastered at that moment; he might have conquered a few gremlins in his mind as well along with those exquisite shots. It was a significant innings from another point as well. The number six slot has been a vexed issue once V V S Laxman was promoted to number five after the retirement of Sourav Ganguly. India had experimented in the past with Yuvraj and Suresh Raina in that slot, but neither of them could show the required consistency.
However, Yuvraj has showed a steely, quite-natured determination since returning to active cricket, and the stylish batsman has asserted several times that the forgettable period in his life has taught him to value life and cricket more.The desire was quite visible in his knock on the day, and it could not have come at a better time as India still have seven more Tests at home against England and Australia in the near-future.
Yuvraj may have done his part but now, it’s also time for us to delink him from the cancer word and enjoy his breathtaking batsmanship.