To put it simply, the Punjab dasher wants to get back into the national squad.
No, that’s not quite correct. He wants to storm back into the Indian team – and the only way to do that is to bring out the heavy artillery (read top-quality performances).
On a comeback trail from a life-threatening illness that nearly derailed his career post the World Cup triumph, Yuvraj Singh clearly means business. No self-respecting cricketer can digest being dropped from international duty for an abysmally long period of time, and the 31-year-old is living proof of that.
He returned for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20, doing well with the ball, but the willow, somehow, remained fairly quiet as the Indians were eliminated from the tournament.
In the IPL too, a back injury forced him to miss a large number of games, and his side ended up with the wooden spoon again. Weight issues severely limited his fielding – one of his key strengths.
He finally put his foot down. Enough was enough. Desperation was palpably etched on his face, though he tried to remain as calm as possible in public. He jetted off to France with fellow discard Zaheer Khan, and under the watchful eyes of European high-performance trainer Tim Exeter, spent six grueling weeks priming his body into top-flight physical shape.
Then, back home, he trained hard at the NCA, perfecting his abilities with the willow, smoothening out the flaws and focusing on being mentally tough to handle the rigours of cricket.
Luck smiled upon him when he was chosen to lead the India ‘A’ team for three unofficial ODIs and a single Twenty20 against West Indies ‘A’. On Sunday, everyone was treated to a dazzling spectacle from the southpaw, leading to speculation about the time it would take for him to return to the national fold.
Here’s a look at the special knocks from the Punjabi Hurricane in his limited overs career:
Special mention: 72 runs off 36 balls vs Pakistan (Ahmedabad, December 2012)
Into his 3rd month of the comeback from a rare germ-cell cancer, Yuvraj launched a blistering assault on the Pakistani bowling after the giant left-armer Mohammad Irfan struck him on the toe with a searing yorker – the batsman saw red, and proceeded to simply murder the rest of the attack.
Runs cascaded from his blade like powerful, gushing waterfalls as he repaired the earlier damage by the Pakistani bowlers in the company of skipper MS Dhoni.
He spared no one, not even the wily Ajmal, who bled plenty in the penultimate over as the rampaging prince blasted three huge sixes in next to no time. His innings laid the platform for an 11-run win, thus squaring the two-match series.