Bangladesh v India, 2nd Test, Mirpur January 23, 2010

Yuvraj Singh's internal battle

There are two Yuvrajs. The confident one that turns up for ODIs and the imposter that stutters out for the Tests. Who will turn up in Mirpur?

It was a full toss and Yuvraj Singh charged down the track with his bat raised. You thought of a possibility of a six but the bat rotated in his hands just before the moment of impact and the ball only reached as far as mid-on, right into the waiting palms of Rubel Hossain. You couldn't escape the feeling that in one-day cricket, he would have hit it over long-on. Yuvraj let out a weary smile as he walked away. The smile was open to interpretation and there was something poignant about the moment.

It has been said before that Yuvraj doesn't grind his way through tough periods, that he is not willing to look ugly. That unlike MS Dhoni, who has converted himself from an attacking warrior to a foot solider, Yuvraj continues to fall prey to his "natural game". In the second innings in Chittagong, he tried to graft. Rubel pinged him on the neck with a bouncer and hurled quite a few other short ones. It was a flat track and even as Yuvraj was struggling, Laxman seemed to possess ample time to play dismissive pulls. Yuvraj hopped, looked ungainly, and the experience could have hurt his ego but he didn't throw away his wicket. It was a start but he then gave it all away with a soft push straight to short cover.

There are two Yuvrajs. The confident one that turns up for ODIs and the imposter that stutters out for the Tests. And even in ODIs where the ball does something, surprisingly, the same mistakes still persist. Unlike Rahul Dravid, he doesn't move forward quickly towards the ball. Unlike Virender Sehwag, he doesn't stay still and wait for the ball to come. Mostly, he is caught in between those two approaches. The right foot stutters out, he misreads the length or picks the length late, the back foot gets stuck on the leg stump line and the front leg swivels towards leg stump to maintain balance. The bat is already pressing down from the high back lift and he has almost no option but to chase the ball, away from the body. It happened in the tri-series final in Mirpur. It has happened on numerous occasions on seaming tracks. And one is yet to start talking about his much-publicised troubles against quality spin.

Apart from the Bangladesh Tests, India are to play at least eight Tests this year. There are a few youngsters who are pushing for a spot. The noose is slowly tightening on Yuvraj. "When there is pressure on individuals due to a good bench strength, the competition brings the best out of the players," Dhoni said today when asked about the pressure on Yuvraj to hold his Test spot. "It's really good that players are pushing each other to get a slot in the middle order in the longer format. So it's good. The more the competition the better it is." There was no mention of Yuvraj to a direct question but the message was there between the lines.

However, just when you think he is in a real peril, Yuvraj surprises you with a charming innings, like it happened in Bangalore against Pakistan, and against England in Chennai. On such days, everything looks imperious - the high back lift, the astonishingly clean swing of the bat, the gorgeous sense of timing and the sheer audacity to pull of breathtaking shots just makes you gasp. Then, very quickly, the imposter returns. Who will turn up in Mirpur?

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sarit on January 24, 2010, 19:51 GMT

    Its not just about averages ... batting at number 5/6 is mostly about batting in pressure at a decent run rate ... India had 2 very experienced natural stroke makers for a long time ... Yuvraj so far hasn't played any innings which stands out in that position, specially outsidethe country.

  • Jason on January 24, 2010, 6:23 GMT

    Yuvraj Singh is the most over-rated player in the history of cricket. Only in India could a complete & utter pretender be given a spot in a test match side and worshipped like a God despite showing a total lack of any class whatsoever. A player like VVS Laxman scores 281 against the best bowling attack in the world when his side is following on- yet Indians worship Yuvraj because he scored 12 runs off 8 balls against Bangladesh on a batting paradise :| In any other country in the world Yuvraj wouldn't even make a club side let alone the national team. Pathetic.

  • ash on January 24, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    yuvi should play well in test match to cement his place in current indian side.he should play like one day match,rather than playing like a test match.south africa series will be very important for him to cement the permanet place in indian side.

  • sumit on January 24, 2010, 6:16 GMT

    @rohan24, I knew you were kidding my man! You see you get this whiplash on your naive comments and then you got to duck for cover mate! Yuvraj is 20/20-ODI material who belongs in IPL, 20/20 internationals, and ODIs. Whereas, Dravid is class, a true batsman and a genuine number 3 in any form of the game! There is no comparison! Mate what was that again about Yuvraj at 3 in tests?! Blimey!!!

  • Balaji on January 24, 2010, 6:06 GMT

    I always thought Yuvraj had dubious Test credentials. He was badly exposed in Australia by Brad Hodge. What's appalling is that his problems with the moving ball and good spin are known for the last 6 years and he is still to address the issue. Also he has become a little overweight. The talent was always there. It is a question of temparament.

  • Kamal on January 24, 2010, 5:34 GMT

    Mohammed Kaif was a better batsman from Yuvraj's "time" more suited to test cricket. However, Yuvraj finds himself in the test team more on the merit of being in the ODI team rather than performance. It's time to bring in and use promising prospects like Vijayan and others..

  • sewd on January 24, 2010, 5:25 GMT

    Yuvraj must be given the free rein to bat in Tests like he does in one dayer. He is an instinctive player like Sehwag. If he starts analyzing the ball after it is delivered, whether he has to grind it like a Test match, he comes across as an average player. Gary Kirsen has to give him the licence along with Dhoni to attack from the outset like Sehwag. He is a genuine match winner and the range of his strokes and timing is awesome. Anybody listening?

  • Prince on January 24, 2010, 5:24 GMT

    Yuvraj Singh is just too talented to miss out.He'll hit back.Just give him an assurance that he'll be persisted with,& see what happens.

  • Karthik on January 24, 2010, 5:23 GMT

    ///ere is one and only one problem with Yuvraj Singh in Tests and it is his batting position. For the man of his age and his abilities, he should be allowed to bat at no:3 where he can be in the thick of things//

    like what going back to pavilion as soon as he comes

  • seshu on January 24, 2010, 5:14 GMT

    better yuvraj should concentrate in odi s and 20-20 s , so he cant hit sixes..

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