Struggling Yuvi seeks to turn the corner

Cricket World T20

Struggling Yuvi seeks to turn the corner
Dwayne Smith went through a testing time against India in their World T20 game on Sunday, unable to make any headway with the bat before R Ashwin put an end to his misery. The hard-hitting opener, however, made amends against Bangladesh on Tuesday with a 43-ball 72.

The West Indian later credited his success to the confidence his team-mates displayed despite their loss to India in their Group 2 opener.

A little over four months ago, India’s captain M S Dhoni too had alluded to that very quality called confidence, when referring to a flamboyant batsman in his team.

“Apart from the talent he has got, he’s someone who does really well once he’s confident,” Dhoni had said, talking about Yuvraj Singh after the loss in the second ODI against West Indies in November last at Visakhapatnam.

The two statements make for interesting reading because, not too long ago in an interview to this newspaper, Yuvraj had said that the only way he could gain confidence was from scoring runs.

“I just need to focus on my batting... and World T20 is an event where I want to make the best of the opportunity if I get one,” the southpaw had added.

After two matches into India’s World T20 campaign, Yuvraj is yet to make his chances count.  He has struggled to score runs even under less-pressure situations – managing a two-ball one against Pakistan and a 19-ball 10 against West Indies. His catching has been poor and Dhoni hasn’t shown much confidence in his bowling. Now, does he need confidence to get into form or does he need runs to gain confidence? Form and confidence, in any sport, are so intertwined that it’s akin to a chicken-and-egg situation.

Dhoni strongly believes Yuvraj, under pressure to retain his place in the side, is one hit away from regaining his form and it’s not difficult to understand why the Indian skipper backs the Punjab batsman to come good. When on song, there isn’t a bigger match-winner than the 32-year-old southpaw in limited overs cricket. He reels off one top-notch performance after another, shaping his team’s fortunes almost single-handedly. He proved it in the inaugural World T20 in 2007 and then again in the last World Cup in 2011. In fact, Yuvraj averages over 60 runs per match in India’s 31 wins in tournaments involving five or more teams.

In the two T20 internationals before this World T20, Yuvraj was the man of the match in both those games. He had pulverised Pakistan (72, 36b, 4x4, 7x6) and Australia (77 n.o., 35b, 8x4, 5x6) with his blistering assault and Dhoni was his partner on both those occasions, forging match-winning partnerships.

“If you see, Yuvraj is the best player in T20s,” Dhoni declared when asked about the batsman’s recent struggles. “Right now, he is not in that good rhythm you can say. It is a bit tough, he has been dropped from the ODIs and is coming back in T20s, there is a bit of pressure on the individual. You can say it is a short format and you can go in and express yourself but when an individual comes into the team, there is some pressure on him. It takes one-two matches but we are only hoping if he gets a good flow, a good game, we all know the kind of match winner he is and he can really turn the game around on his own,” he explained.

On Wednesday afternoon, during their first practice session in three days, Yuvraj went in to bat at two and kept swapping ‘nets’ with another left-hander Shikhar Dhawan. He appeared to hit every ball in his sight, more in anger, and connected more than he missed. He then had a long bowling session as well.

The intent was apparent, the purpose was obvious and hopefully, the results will follow soon. 
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