Time for Yuvi to step up

Southpaw will have to put disappointments behind

Time for Yuvi to step up

The best of Yuvraj has been kept in cold storage for a while now, but there were glimpses of what the beefy left-hander can do at various stages of the triangular series.

The Chandigarh middle-order batsman is still a long way short of returning to the kind of form and fitness that saw him decimate bowling attacks in the mid to late-2000s, and patrol the point region in particular with tigerish resolve and panther-like agility.

These have been difficult times for the often misunderstood Yuvraj, a succession of injuries undoubtedly playing their part in his loss of form and, consequently, the loss of his place too from the one-day squad.

Having missed out on the Asia Cup here in Dambulla in June, this seven-week tour of the teardrop island was construed as an outstanding chance to re-establish his credentials, but things haven’t, again, gone swimmingly for Yuvraj.

He started the tour in some style, with a sparkling hundred in the warm-up game and a polished half-century in the Galle Test, but subsequent events have shown that that was no more than a false dawn.

Viral fever kept him out of the second Test and Suresh Raina grabbed his chance with a brilliant century on debut, backing it up with impressive performances in the P Sara Test to put Yuvraj’s Test career on hold, however temporarily.

A return to the limited-overs squad was short-lived when fever again intervened – skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni jumped the gun by diagnosing it erroneously as dengue – but when he approached the business end of the tri-series, Yuvraj showed that rust, more than anything else, was what was holding him back.

He is unlikely to be as agile on the field as he was before the horrible knee injury sustained during the 2006 Champions Trophy, but his presence at point for the first time in recent memory was a heartening development. His batting was patchy, occasional flashes of brilliant strokeplay suggesting an imminent turnaround, but serious lapses of concentration suggesting he has a way to go yet.

“You can support someone, but you can’t get him into form,” Dhoni said, sympathetic of the travails of his one-time deputy. “You can create an environment for someone to succeed, but it’s a very individual thing. You get confidence only by scoring runs. We are hoping that in the next few games, he will regain his form and be among the runs. If he can pick it up and is at his best just before the World Cup, it will be brilliant because he is the ideal number four batsman, a proven match-winner who can easily change the course of a game.”

The chasing pack has given Yuvraj some breathing time by not making the most of the opportunities. It’s now up to him to step up and reveal the real deal.

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