Yuvraj shows he is not done yet

Cricket : Southpaw needs to be consistant

Yuvraj shows he is not done yet

When Yuvraj Singh was picked for the limited overs series against England, his recall was met with mixed reactions.

While some felt the 35-year-old was past his prime and an youngster should have been groomed keeping the future in mind, others felt the 2011 World Cup hero could still be a game changer.

Both the arguments seem to have been won in the two matches the dashing southpaw has played. In the opening one-day international at Pune he got out for a good-looking 15 before making a massive statement with probably the innings of his chequered career on Thursday at a packed Barabati Stadium.

With the Indian team in deep trouble at 25/3 in just 4.4 overs, Yuvraj dished out a vintage 127-ball 150 — the highest score of his 16-year international career. Seeing the cricket ball like a football, Yuvraj bludgeoned the England bowlers. The powerful pulls, the elegant drives and the mighty lofts just kept flowing out of his willow as fans went ballistic. It appeared as if the clock had been turned back by about ten years when he was at the peak of his powers.

Yuvraj then, young, athletic and fearless, was one of the best performers in coloured clothing. Apart from being a brutal destroyer of the white ball, he could turn his arm around with good effect. Add his exceptional fielding, he was a priceless asset for the Indian team. His six sixes in an over against England in the 2007 World T20 and the man of the series performance in the 2011 World Cup were proofs of his exceptional natural talent and big match temperament. Thursday looked very much like the old Yuvraj.

One needs to credit Yuvraj for having the passion and fire to still don the national colours although his recall seems to be more of a short-term plan. Despite the immense competition for slots in the Indian team that has seen Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane fail to find a place in the playing XI of limited-overs side, Yuvraj has pushed his battered body knowing even if he hangs up his boots today he could retire as one of the superstars of Indian cricket.

But, when has Yuvraj ever given up in his career or life for that matter? Be it the dreaded cancer in 2011 or being dropped after the tour of South Africa in 2013 or seemingly done following a poor 2014 World T20 where he scored a painstaking 21-ball 11 in the final. He launched another comeback attempt last year and made it to World T20 squad but suffered an ankle injury midway and having just contributed 52 runs in four games, he appeared finished. It was not to be as Yuvraj continued to defy everyone and made 672 runs in five games in the just completed Ranji Trophy season to be back among the mix. With the Indian middle-order struggling last year after MS Dhoni endured a rare slump, it handed him another lifeline.

“I came back after recovering from cancer, the first 2-3 years were very hard,” acknowledged Yuvraj after the Cuttack game. “I had to work hard on my fitness and I was in and out of the team. I was not able to get a permanent spot. There was a time when I was wondering whether to continue or not to continue. I think a lot of people have helped me throughout this journey. Never giving up is my theory. So I never gave up, kept working hard. I knew time will change.”

Time has indeed changed for Yuvraj as he walks towards twilight of his career. While Yuvraj’s ability to play such gems is undoubtable, what remains to be seen is if he can keep producing the goods on a consistent basis for a fairytale exit. Only time will tell.

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