Expectedly, Yuvraj Singh returned to the squad for the lone Twenty20 International and the first three ODIs against Australia. The return of the 31-year-old was one of the few changes that were made to the full-strength India squad, which won the ICC Champions Trophy and the tri-series in the West Indies in June-July.
After being dropped from the ODI side at the start of this year, Singh let his bat do the talking when given the opportunity in the recent one-dayers for India ‘A’ against the West Indies ‘A’ and the Challenger Trophy in which he led India Blue to title win. A post on his Twitter account, @YUVSTRONG12 said it all: “Thanks everyone for your Constant love support ! Look forward to represent my country yet once again!”
Determined to come back into the national team, Yuvraj did all that he could to win back the confidence of the selectors score big at every chance. After missing out on the 15 ODIs that India played since he was dropped in January this year, he has overcome low confidence and is now a rejuvenated player. He has scored 389 runs from the last six innings.
A current player, who has seen Yuvraj from close quarters in both the series against West Indies ‘A’ and the Challengers, said that Yuvraj “is very positive about himself now”.
“Whatever I have seen of Yuvraj, he has lost a lot of weight and looks fit. He also appears very confident and that has rubbed on the younger players in the sides he led,” he said without wanting to be named.
India ‘A’ coach Lalchand Rajput said: “When you work hard, you know you want to do well. Yuvraj was determined to perform well in these matches. He was motivated to come back and has the hunger to score runs. He is much more focussed now than ever before.”
Said former India stumper Sameer Dighe, who was coach of the triumphant India Blue in the Challengers: “The way Yuvraj batted, he showed he was eager to do well in international cricket again. His commitment is unbelievable.”
Dighe added: “He has matured as a player and was comfortable with the players. He was talking to the younger players in the side, sharing his experiences and they were keen to play under him.”
To put it in simple words, Dighe said: “He is a class apart.
India needs him in the middle order. The way he was hitting the ball was a real sign of his eagerness to return to the national squad. He is, after all, a big player.”
Meanwhile, from the squad that won in England and the West Indies, the selectors who met in Chennai on Monday, dropped Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik and Umesh Yadav. Irfan Pathan, who was to lead India Red in the Challengers, was ruled out due to an injury.
While the senior players — MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar — who were rested for the Zimbabwe tour in July returned to the squad, three of the players who were in the Virat Kohli-led second-string side — batsman Ambati Rayudu and pacers Jayadev Unadkat and Mohammad Shami have retained their places. It remains a mystery why Yadav has been omitted.
With no official communication from the board about Yadav, one can only look at his performance in the recent Challengers — 1/67 and 1/85 for India Red — and feel that keeping him out was a little too harsh. After all, wasn’t he a major force along with Bhuvneshwar not long ago?