Can Out of Sorts Yuvraj Revive His Career At The Venue He Did It Two Years Ago?
He has been out of the national side for the last 17 months. He has been released by his IPL Franchise Kings XI Punjab. He had a decent Vijay Hazare Trophy but relinquished his place to make place for youngsters in the Ranji Trophy. Yet, Yuvraj Singh, one of Indian cricket's biggest match winners continues to fight. He is hopeful for a look in before the World Cup, and his state team Punjab is right behind him.
Yuvraj Singh was included in Punjab's Ranji team for the next three four-day matches as some of their players are away for A tours. Another major reason Punjab have called back Yuvraj is two poor opening games, both of which could not fetch them a single point because of conceding first-innings leads.
Yuvraj will carry on with his fightback from the very same venue which was critical in earning him a call back to the Indian side. He had made a comeback to the Indian team in January 2016 after almost two years, thanks to a good domestic season. But an injury in the crucial virtual quarterfinal against Australia in 2016's World T20 kept him out of national reckoning even after an impressive IPL that year.
Yuvraj, however, turned things around with a stunning 177 against Madhya Pradesh on a tough wicket in the Ranji Trophy during October 2016. The icing on the cake was a career-best 260 against Baroda at Feroz Shah Kotla a couple of weeks later.
His innings in Delhi was all the more special as Punjab had to better Baroda's mammoth score of 529 in the first innings, which they eventually did to earn two points.
Despite just playing 5 Ranji matches in that season, Yuvraj ended the season as Punjab's highest run scorer with 672 runs at an average of 84 including two centuries and two half-centuries.
He could not play all the matches with his wedding coinciding with the schedule of Ranji Trophy but was called back to the team for his consistency in the longer format, as India were struggling with their middle order on the lead up to the Champions Trophy.
Yuvraj scored his career-best 150 in only his second ODI after his comeback, and also won a man-of-the-match award in India's opening game in the Champions Trophy against Pakistan. An average series in the West Indies meant that Yuvraj was not included in India's subsequent tour to Sri Lanka, as they were looking to build a young side for the World Cup.
But more than a year since his exclusion, India are still struggling to find consistency with their middle order. While Ambati Rayudu has impressed somewhat, the rest of the middle order is just not able to find a way to bat enough overs to get the team through.
Even as MS Dhoni's form is fading, India need a batsman with experience and the temperament to play long innings for cover.
With Under-19 World Cup, IPL, World T20, Champions Trophy, 50-over World Cup and multiple tournament victories for his team, Yuvraj might just be the man who can solve India's questions at this point. With 20 wickets and close to 800 runs, Yuvraj is also India's most successful all-rounder in ODI World Cups.
It is a pity a player of Yuvraj's calibre has to prove his form time and again. But knowing Yuvraj the fighter, he is one who will relish this challenge as he has done on so many occasions in his shaky, yet glorious career for India.