With guys like Manoj Tiwary and Rohit Sharma scoring big in domestic cricket, Yuvraj Singh (above) needs to consistently get big scores to cement his No 6 slot in Test cricket © Getty Images
It has been a comeback that has tugged the hearts and inspired a nation. Yuvraj Singh’s battle against cancer and subsequent return to the field is a remarkable story of his guts and grits and subsequent triumph against debilitating mental and physical odds. Since his comeback in the 2012 ICC World T20, he has risen through the ranks to mark a return to the classical format. The southpaw has made no bones of the fact that he wants to make a mark in Test cricket, having done brilliantly well in limited-overs internationals.
The No 6 spot in the Indian Test side has changed hands a number of times in the last few years, with no one establishing themselves in the long run. Yuvraj was one of the players who got a relatively longer run there, but he hasn’t been spectacular. He did produce the odd fifty, but then lost out to Suresh Raina.
Following are the records of men who have batted at No 6 since Sourav Ganguly‘s retirement – a point from where that position became iffy.
*Does not include night-watchmen
Yuvraj and Raina have played the longest at No 6 and have nearly similar figures. One can see that this spot was in many ways one to groom youngsters for the future. There was no berth in higher in the order as Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman were still around. Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara have moved up the order. Kohli did well in the series against New Zealand and to keep him at No 5 is good for the long run. In all likelihood, he would take over the No 4 spot once Sachin Tendulkar calls it a day.
In the first Test at Ahmedabad, Yuvraj scored a fantastic 74 and looked set for a much bigger one when he holed out to the deep. The numbers above indicate that he hasn’t stamped his authority. If Yuvraj has to establish himself in the Test side, he cannot rely on those occasional flashy fifties. He needs to convert those starts into big ones. He is almost 31 and can have a good Test career ahead if he can display consistency. An average of 39.84 isn’t enough for him to prove his credentials.
The southpaw cannot take it easy because there is competition for the No 6 spot. In the India A game against England, Manoj Tiwary scored a fighting 93 and yet couldn’t break into the Test side. Yuvraj’s all-round show trumped him in the race. Despite having a superior First-Class record when compared to Yuvraj and Raina, it was surprising that Tiwary didn’t find himself in the reckoning for the Test side. What more can he do apart from scoring runs consistently?
In his most recent outing, Tiwary smashed 191 against Gujarat to further his claims, even as Yuvraj had a horror outing on the turning track at Mumbai. This would certainly keep him in the loop. In another part of the country, the enigmatic Rohit Sharma was plotting his recovery knock of 112 against Hyderabad. Raina hasn’t made a huge score yet.
It is time Yuvraj gets his act together if he wants to resurrect his Test career. There are men waiting in the wings who are ready to pounce on an opportunity. From the larger perspective, India needs a stable option at number six as it would add tremendous solidity to the middle- order. The game of musical chairs for that spot has to stop at some point.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)