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Chance for Yuvraj to make a statement

G Unnikrishnan, September 14, 2013, Bangalore, DHNS:

India 'A' skipper looks to fire in one-day series

lean, mean: Yuvraj Singh will be eager to strike form quickly.  Dh photo/Kishor Kumar  Bolar

It’s quite amazing to see how quickly fortunes have changed for Yuvraj Singh. A double World Cup winner and toast of the nation not so long ago, Yuvraj has been pushed to the sidelines after a dry run with the bat.

In the meantime, several youngsters have overtaken the 33-year-old in the race for a berth in the Indian one-day team. Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja had so much success in the past few months that the old guard comprising Yuvraj has gradually been drifting to oblivion.

But the Punjab left-hander will get a chance to strike one blow back for his tribe when India ‘A’ take on West Indies ‘A’ in the first of the three one-dayers at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday. The way he prepared on the eve of the match conveyed his intent. There were no lethargic moments for him at the nets, engaging actively in fielding and batting drills, while occasionally finding time to polish his left-arm spin.

They were reminders of a breathtaking natural talent in action but the stand-out feature was his new-found physical fitness. Those gruelling hours he spent under the harsh sun of Southern France recently has made an impact. There was no extra ounce of flab to be seen on his body and India ‘A’ coach Lalchand Rajput shared his thoughts on Yuvraj’s efforts to earn his place in the team back.

“He has gone through a tough period in his life and from there he came back successfully. But on the field there wasn’t much success for him and he worked hard on his fitness. His desire to get back into national team is palpable, and I am sure he is eager to produce a few good knocks here,” said Rajput of the India ‘A’ skipper.

Like Yuvraj, the three one-dayers and the lone T20 match are important for two other near-forgotten names -- Robin Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan. Uthappa’s last ODI for India was in 2008, while his last appearance in India colours was in March, 2012. The Karnataka batsman has underlined his touch and confidence with a match-winning hundred against New Zealand ‘A’ at Visakhapatnam and he will be eager to better the effort.

Pathan too offers a similar tale. The elder Pathan has failed to add to his ODI and T20I appearances for India since March last year. With a seven match one-day series against Australia fast approaching, the series against West Indies is a golden chance for the troika to make an impression on the selectors.

Like their Indian counterparts, the West Indians too will be eager to come up with some fine efforts to catch the attention of their selectors ahead of Windies’ tour of India in November. Players in Windies ranks such as Kirk Edwards, who made a hundred against India at Dominica in 2011, skipper Kieran Powell, Andre Fletcher and Andre Russel, who were in terrific form in the Caribbean Premier League, will be keen to produce strong performances.

Meanwhile, KSCA stated in a release that entry will be free for all the matches.


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