Yuvraj's return to form provides selection conundrum for Indian selectors
Six years since enthralling the Durban crowd by smashing six humongous sixes off England’s Stuart Broad in the successful inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, Yuvraj Singh’s life on and off the field have been nothing short of a dramatic movie script.
Between playing the role of the chief protagonist in India’s two World Cup wins, Yuvraj dazzled in the limited-overs format of the game despite struggling to cement a spot in the Test side. His frailties in the long form had no implication on his ability to be one of the most crucial members of the MS Dhoni-led Indian side. However, after the high of the World Cup win in 2011 came a personal low. All of a sudden, his flourishing career was left hanging in mid-air after it was revealed that he suffered a rare germ-cell cancer. Though not life threatening, it was potent enough to bring a cruel and an abrupt end to his career. Yuvraj however, seemed determined to don the Indian colours again.
After full recovery, he made a brief return in the second half of 2012 but lost out his place due to youngsters after his reflexes seemed to have been impacted by the disease. However, he was far from done. An extensive training session in France with the famous fitness expert Tim Exeter put him back in BCCI’s radar.
While giving a second opportunity to the likes of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, the board handed Yuvraj the captaincy of India A in the home-series against the West Indies A. The series may have been lost, but the fact that Yuvraj staged a grand comeback with a scintillating knock of 123 from just 89 deliveries puts the selectors in a tough spot.
The current set of Indian selectors, under the leadership of Sandeep Patil, have made a few bold decisions in the recent past and have been rewarded with positive results. Their ability to put form over reputation set a precedent and invoked hope amongst the fans that the selectors were genuinely in pursuit of the core team that will travel down under to defend their World Cup title in 2015. They went to the extent of rewarding Dinesh Karthik a comeback to the national side based on domestic performances despite being out of international duty for three years. It came as a lease of life for the Tamil Nadu cricketer, who made full use of the opportunity and established himself in India’s Champions Trophy 2013 victory.
However, with Yuvraj Singh fighting to get back into the side, Karthik’s spot could be in jeopardy. Former India skipper Sourav Ganguly felt Karthik should make way for Yuvraj as the latter could provide stability to be more worthy of at number four.
Although an ouster would be cruel on Karthik, he will be well aware of the fact that the margin for error is close to negligible with Yuvraj breathing heavily down his neck. Even the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane could find it tougher to break into the side with the selectors looking likely to go with Yuvraj for the home series against Australia in October.
Yuvraj’s unshakable determination and solid temperament surely warrants a return, but at what cost? Will accommodating Yuvraj mean finding a sacrificial lamb in the current outfit? Or will it be the selectors’ way of adding a bit of experience to the line-up? Either way, the Indian selectors have a rough ride awaiting them.