Speculations can all be put to rest now after Yuvraj Singh made a successful return into the international cricket after a nine months sabbatical due to cancer. He is now back and terming it as the “mother of all comebacks” would not be too flattering. For a man who was crowned as the player of the tournament in India’s successful 2011 ICC World Cup campaign, to a man who battled a deadly disease like cancer and back to the game again, it indeed has been a strenuous journey. But it was his sheer determination and grit that saw him wear the national colours again.
When Yuvraj expressed his desire to play in the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka few months ago, it looked like a distant dream. And when his name was announced in the squad for the two-match T20 series against New Zealand and the T20 extravaganza in the Island Nation, it did draw mixed reactions from his friends and well-wishers. Some liked the idea, whereas some showed their concern saying that it was too early for Yuvi to rush into international cricket. But then only the champion knew where he stood and made his magical return possible.
Indian skipper on Tuesday, elected to field first after winning the toss, a decision which did raise few eyebrows and eventually saw India losing the match. But then the decision came as a blessing in disguise for Yuvi. It allowed Yuvi to calm his nerve on the field and let the feeling slowly sink into him and when he came out to bat, after initial jitters he was in his elements.
It was not only a relief for the champion and his family, but then was same for the thousands who gathered in the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium and millions watching it on the television set. It was a real emotional moment and it sure was very motivating for him to see placards and banners being flashed around the stadium in his honour. Everything he did was greeted with thunderous roars and finally his real test came when Dhoni asked him to roll his arms. The first ball he bowled was a wide one and was nudged for a single. It did show rustiness but then his spell got better with every preceding delivery. He almost had Brendon McCullum caught off his own bowling but then the full blooded shot hurt his arm and he was taken out for the medical attention.
He could not take a wicket but then his intervention to that shot showed that his reflexes were tad on and had it been some other day he would have caught it. He was hit for a huge six down the ground in his next over. He gave away just 14 runs in two overs -- not a bad performance by T20 standards and especially when one was bowling to rampaging McCullum.
It was hard to keep him out of action and standing at his trademark cover-point position he took a good high catch to dismiss James Franklin of Laxmipathy Balaji’s bowling. Yuvraj, who otherwise breaks into jubilant mood kept the celebrations low, but then it did send the crowd berserk.
Chasing a target of 168, India started well and Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina were looking in full flow. But when Raina was caught in the 11th over at covers by Ross Taylor, finally the moment came when Yuvraj walked in to bat. Had it been an IPL match, Raina’s wicket would have brought a pin drop silence in the ground as he plays for Chennai Super Kings, but then they sent a deafening roar to welcome the southpaw.
Yuvraj up against Kyle Mills played an awkward looking shot on the first ball and in the next ball he got off to the mark. Yuvraj got his first boundary on the fifth ball he faced which sent the crowd cheering. Yuvraj was showing good foot movement, a positive sign.
His innings could have been caught short when a mistimed pull went high into the air but a collision between McCullum and Mills saw the catch getting dropped.
Yuvraj who was playing cautiously at last marked his arrival with a huge six over wide long on off Daniel Vettori’s bowling. It was vintage Yuvraj and all that can be said about that shot was how effortless it looked. He just used the crease and moved his feet to heave the ball into the skies.
After Kohli was out, the asking rate kept climbing and Yuvraj made a last minute effort and hoisted Jacob Oram for one more six in the 19th over to bring some respite to the Indian dressing room.
With just six runs required off last three deliveries Yuvraj tried to smash Franklin out of the park but failed to read the slower delivery and made a mess of his stumps.
He could not win the match, but won many a hearts. More than the results everyone was bothered about him and he did pass the test.
Hail the champion for his grime, guts and glory!