ICC World T20 2014: Yuvraj Singh roars back to form, but consistency will be real test
Yuvraj Singh has to be more consistent in his performances to stake a solid claim for a spot in the next World Cup squad © Getty Images
Star all-rounder Yuvraj Singh finally looked his usual self and played a match-winning knock in India’s fourth consecutive win in the ongoing ICC World T20 2014. While Yuvraj’s fans and well-wishers would be pleased with his performance against Australia in the T20 World Cup tie at Dhaka, the real test for the seasoned campaigner would be attaining consistency, says Devarchit Varma.
Many a times in the past, the Indian fans have witnessed that their side has been on the receiving end from those cricketers, who have been out-of-form, but have suddenly found the momentum. History is replete with such examples. But on Sunday night at Dhaka, what transpired in couple of hours during the clash against Australia would have delighted the Indian fans. Yuvraj Singh — one of the stalwarts who had been struggling for every single run, roared back into form against a quality side and propelled India to their fourth win in the ongoing ICC World T20 2014. Yuvraj played an extremely crucial knock of 60 to not only guide India to a win, but the timing of it — just before the big semi-final against South Africa — is a huge bonus to a rampaging Indian side.
Yuvraj has somehow managed to hang on to his position in the playing XI and the squad. He is no more in the reckoning for Test cricket and is out of the One-Day International (ODIs) side as well. His numerous struggles, including the one against Australia’s Mitchell Johnson in the seven-match series against Australia at home, also against West Indies’ mystery spinner Sunil Narine in the three-match 50-over series, did no good to his form and Yuvraj slumped into a zone where things only got tougher.
The 32-year-old wasn’t in the squad for the tour of New Zealand, and one wondered if he was in reckoning for the ICC World Cup 2015, which is just about a year away. Then came the surprise, or perhaps one more lifeline – despite a poor run he was named in the Indian squad for the ICC World T20 2014 to be played in the subcontinent and Yuvraj fans prayed the southpaw soon ends the dry spell.
For the record, this was Yuvraj’s third comeback after his return to action. But much to the horror of Yuvraj and his fans, he made an atrocious start. In his first match, in a crucial tie against Pakistan, Yuvraj missed a full delivery and was cleaned up on the second ball. In the tie against the West Indies, even though there was absolutely no pressure on India with the top order taking them close to win, Yuvraj, who was so badly entangled in the web of problems that he not only failed to take his side past the finish line, but also ended up denting his confidence further. Time was running out fast; the media and critics continued to question his place and suggested India to opt for someone younger and in-form batsman.
Then came the game against Australia – an inconsequential tie as India had already qualified for the semi-final, and their opponents being out of the tournament. While the axe fell on Shikhar Dhawan for being inconsistent, a visibly struggling Yuvraj, padded up, anxiously waited for his chance to go out in the middle as India had lost Rohit Sharma early after asked to bat. Yuvraj’s turn came soon as India lost their batting mainstay Virat Kohli in the seventh over. Yuvraj walked out at No 4, but soon lost his partner Ajinkya Rahane. The trouble increased further for India when Suresh Raina too fell early, and they were left with one struggling Yuvraj and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who hadn’t spent much time in the middle.
Like every other batsman who is struggling, Yuvraj too began his innings on a scratchy note. There was a close call for leg-before as he tried to sweep a delivery off Glenn Maxwell. The ball turned sharply and hit Yuvraj on the back leg a little too high. There was a run out chance too, which Yuvraj survived. A boundary was hit off Doug Bollinger and another off James Muirhead. But the world saw Yuvraj’s revival when the rookie leg-spinner, Muirhead was hit for consecutive sixes in the 14th over. Yuvraj had arrived. He went on to hit two more sixes and couple of more boundaries, and fell in the last over of the innings after scoring 60 off 43 balls.
This performance certainly delighted his fans, as the social media websites got flooded with praise for Yuvraj. He certainly looked lot more confident and went about his job in the manner for which he is known for. Indeed, this knock would have brought a huge sigh of relief for Yuvraj, but there is a lot more to it.
Since his return to cricket after winning the battle against cancer, this is not the first instance when Yuvraj has bounced back in form. The knock of 77 against Australia at Rajkot in October 2013 gave glimpses of his brilliance. But Yuvraj went into a slump after that. Then came the laborious 55 against the West Indies in Kanpur – a game wherein Narine was all over him and finally snarled his wicket. On both these occasions, one thought Yuvraj has finally shrugged off the poor run and is back in business. But what followed was only dejection. Yuvraj certainly cannot afford any more lean patches. India too, can’t have their key player struggling.
Yuvraj has done well to prove his mettle once again in tough circumstances. But this time around, the fans would like to see more of such performances. Not in long gaps, but lot frequently. The World Cup is nearing fast and India will need an all-guns-blazing Yuvraj, rather than the one who shines with one bright knock and goes into limbo. Attaining consistency should be Yuvraj’s goal, going ahead.
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(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)