Hyderabad witnessed with joy the return of Yuvraj Singh at the Duleep Trophy tournament
There is no better place for any cricketer than being there in the middle —be it rediscovering the lost form or fine tuning the skills ahead of a demanding schedule. The on-going Duleep Trophy, for a change timed ahead of the crucial Test series against England and Australia at home, presented one such huge opportunity for many. The list of hopefuls and those keen to catch the eye of the national selectors is headed by the dashing batsman Yuvraj Singh and Ishant Sharma. The latter had already made a big impact with his performance in the Duleep Trophy quarter-final in Chennai last week against West Zone.
So, the focus was clearly on the flamboyant Yuvraj, who was back on the cricket field after battling cancer, playing his first four-day match after his return. Though he had already played in the T-20s for India, he has been nursing a bigger dream of regaining his place in the Indian Test team. Against this backdrop, when he went out to bat for the North Zone against Central Zone in the Duleep Trophy semi-final at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad, in his heart of hearts there should have been moments of apprehension of how things would have gone.
But, like a champion cricketer Yuvraj brushed aside the fact that he was playing this format after a long gap and looked extremely comfortable when he belted the hapless Central attack of Praveen Kumar, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Murali Kartik with great ease. The most pleasant feature, from his own perspective and the point of view of the two selectors (Vikram Rathour and Rajinder Singh Hans) watching him in action, is the way he successfully dislodged what could be a huge mental block. There was a discernible freedom in his movements, no signs of fatigue and the best part from the few who gathered to watch him were the vintage Yuvraj strokes flowed from his willow.
“My lung capacity has gone for a toss after the chemo treatment,” were Yuvraj’s comments before the game began at his favourite venue — Uppal Stadium. So, when the 30-year-old India cricketer eventually scored a double century (208), it was just what the doctor could have prescribed — be it the technical competence to handle the bowling, the endurance levels in the scorching heat and never showing any signs of uneasiness. The only time he gave an impression of fatigue was when he walked out of the ground at the end of the first day after remaining unbeaten on 133. This was understandable given the fact that he had been engaged in a battle for life itself not long ago. So, from the depths of despair, Yuvraj had clearly moved into a different comfort zone where he can look back and treat the turbulent phase as some sort of an aberration.
“Ï am delighted with this very special double century in my first four-day game on my comeback trail to Test cricket,” were his spontaneous remarks after his magnificent batting.
Hyderabadis can share Yuvraj’s moments of joy in triumphant return too as the City happens to be the lucky venue for him. “I love the people here and always enjoyed playing here,” he says.