Duleep Trophy, semi-finals, 2nd day October 15, 2012

'Yuvraj has proved a lot of critics wrong'


Yuvraj Singh has answered questions over his fitness with a double-century against Central Zone in his first first-class match since recovering from cancer, according to two men who watched the innings closely. Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj's North Zone captain, said no one could play such a long knock without being fit. Ajay Mehra, the former first-class cricketer who is working as a commentator on the game in Hyderabad, said Yuvraj had proved a lot of critics wrong with his performance. His former India team-mate and opposition captain, Mohammad Kaif, said Yuvraj had displayed impeccable timing through most of the innings*.

Yuvraj's innings lasted over five-and-a-half hours and he took the field after lunch on the second day during Central Zone's innings, standing in the slip cordon for most of the day. Dhawan, who made 121 and batted for over 20 overs with Yuvraj during their third-wicket partnership, praised his senior partner's mental strength.

"I felt really good for Yuvi paaji," Dhawan told ESPNcricinfo. "He is such a motivation for all youngsters. It was a classy innings. I loved seeing him from the other end. The way he came in and started batting, I [laughing] told him he had almost finished the game. He is a very strong man mentally.

"If someone is scoring a double-century, he has to be fit. He was running very fast during the innings. We ran several quick singles and threes."

Yuvraj was selected for the recently concluded World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka without having played any competitive match since November 2011, though he trained at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore. He showed signs of rustiness in Sri Lanka and he looked tired after running twos and sharp singles, leading former players to question the timing of his comeback.

Dhawan, who also trained at the NCA when Yuvraj did, spoke about the effort he had put into his preparation at that time. "I trained with him in the NCA as well before he went to Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20. Even then, he was sprinting hard with high intensity. Of course, it takes time for things to get together for one in a match."

Mehra said Yuvraj had the option of taking some more time off the field but it was good to see that he had chosen to turn out for North Zone in the Duleep Trophy. "It was a test for him," Mehra said. "He was playing the longer format for the first time since recovering from cancer and he has proved a lot of critics wrong. He could have easily opted out of the Duleep Trophy. He could have said that he wanted some time to get fitter. What was good to see was the way he slogged it out in the middle. He looked very determined and focused. It was pleasing to see the way he applied himself.

"There is nothing like match practice. The more he plays, the more he will improve. He has worked hard on his fitness and is looking much better than he did during the World Twenty20."

Kaif, while also expressing disappointment at the runs coming against his team, praised Yuvraj's "impressive" showing. "The hallmark of this particular innings in Hyderabad was his timing - one of his strengths over the years. When he times the ball well he becomes a completely different batsman and that is what he did during his long stay at the wicket over the first two days of the [match]," Kaif said in the Indian Express. "What was as impressive as the number of runs Yuvraj scored was the fact that he was able to bat over five hours across two days and he must be very pleased with his level of fitness, which is key when you play the longer versions of the game.

Though he scored a large number of runs in boundaries on way to his double hundred he also showed that he could sprint between the wickets. At different points in the game he did steal quick singles."

*05:53 GMT, October 16: This story has been updated with the Mohammad Kaif quotes

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Munawar on October 18, 2012, 10:26 GMT

    No matter what, I would never get Yuvraj play Test matches so soon after getting back to sport. I would give him ayear to recover fully. Yes he surely deserves to be in ODI and Tests but not in Tests for now. Instead, I would get Md.Kaif in for Tests and make him the captain as well. I would let Dhoni go out of Tests and concentrate on ODIs and T20s. Md.Kaif yet again, clearly, laid the foundation for Central's win in semi-finals yesterday. I think he is the fittest cricketr around and he has consistently been performing in domestic tournaments over the last two-three years. He deserves anoter chance to resurrect his career. And I am sure he will prove to be a great Test captain. Look at what he did to UP in Ranji. Two Ranji championships and three Ranji finals in last four years for an average team and without too many international stars. Give him a chance, it won't hurt. If they can give Raina another chance in Tests why not to Kaif. Hope Rajinder Hans and Sandeep Patil are listenin

  • Ashok on October 17, 2012, 19:12 GMT

    It is not easy to return to full fitness overnight after such a serious illness.It is always a good idea for Yuvraj to work his way up to 100% fitness gradually. He is coming off a life threatening illness. Also Cancer is not a disease that can be beaten totally, yet. So Yuvraj must also have his medical checkups, blood test going in parallel to ensure there is no relapse. It is for hiw own safety. By this double century lasting over 5.5 hours he has proven that he is almost 100% in his fitness. He was not at that stage when he played WC T 20. This is a good news. It will at least ensure that the Selectors can consider him for the Test matches Vs. England. India definitely needs new opening pair as Gambhir & Sehwag are not performing.S.Dhawan & Vijay/Mukund/Chand are the alternate options.Kohli & Pujara are the likely to be the next 2 in tha batting line up. There are question marks against Sehwag & Tendulkar in their form & finess. The Selectors may prefer Yuvraj & Raina instead.

  • Raj on October 17, 2012, 14:40 GMT

    This 2 hundred is confusion and not going to add any value our test cricket.

    I was expecting people starts talking about Yuvi test career again by seeing this double hundred. Guys please stop this, don't spoil Indian test cricket. There are people like Rahane, Tiwary, Muund & Vijay done lot of 2 hundreds and waiting for place. Yuvi is already 30s like Badri, so ignore this one 2 hundred and we should move ahead with younger players. We found great Kohli because of scarifying Laxman, we have to do same. But still Dhoni in test captain, we can't do experiment with younger players and Raina will be there permanently and that happens no matter how many 0-8 test away results and how many raina failures.

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    Don know why it happens often, that Yuvi scores in Hyderabad, and more often it goes vain in a losing cause..

  • Dru on October 17, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    I dont follow domestic cricket but the headline caught my attention. Only Yuvi can do something like this much like the incredible things he does on the field with bat, ball and fielding. It will be one of the great dissappoinments if this guy doesnt make a test name for himself.

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2012, 3:12 GMT

    Both Yuvi & Kaif should play tests for India

  • Nik on October 16, 2012, 22:50 GMT

    Yuvraj shuld be in Test squad atleast for Raina who played horrible shot and also some1 mentioned above that we should 3 sepeate teams. look 2 dhoni he hasnt played well in Test matches outside india failed misearably also look at indian batitng in Test matches Gambhir , sehwag failing badly. Sachin is in poor form but he will come back against england but seriously we need to think how much a player can take. dhoni is strugling he needs rest. his strike rate and stroke play has come down big time he has gone slow now. needs to take rest from this stupid CL20 who cares man so much T 20 is destroying everything

  • RAVINDER on October 16, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    From Yuvi's greatest fans...well done Yuvi...keep on working hard like this and surely someone will use his brain to select you instead of miserable Raina (in tests) at no.5.I still think you are one of most talented and mentally strong person to bat at no.5,6 or 7.If someone dont agree he should check his past record.All his top scores in tests came when India was 4-5 down for 50-80 odd runs at board.

  • Ben on October 16, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    I do not care if he is fit as Yohan blake . If India needs to be force in world cricket there should be seperate T20 , ODI and test team with different set of players ensuring there is no heavy workload on one player thus affecting performance. A prime example is Dhoni - the workload has taken its toll on him. Yuvraj , Raina, Kohli , Dhoni should be allowed to play only T20 and ODI because in tests their skills are not up to the mark. On other hand Gambhir, Pujara, Rohit , Rahane, Tiwary should only playing tests only. Players like Yusuf pathan, Uttapa , Saurabh Tiwary should play only T20. This will solve issue of player fatigue as well as adapting to different formats. Once a player knows he has to concentrate on one format only , he can work towards developing skills for that format only. This switching from T20 mode to ODI mode to Test mode and vice versa has destroyed techniques of players like Rohit Sharma (test material only) and will spoil techniques of other players aswel

  • Dummy4 on October 16, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    @rajeshj. By the way, the next two major test series will be played in India ! Not in England. Not in Australia. If at all selectors want to try Yuvi out in the longer version once again, these are the best opportunities. And many of the youngsters who are knocking on the doors also look up to him. In case the great Sachin retires, Yuvi can perfectly play that vital 'senor brother' role to those young ones who may get chosen. (Incidentally, currently we have only TWO reasonably reliable batsmen -- Kohli & Raina! All the others are suffering from suspect form). Class, form & fitness are more important than history, in choosing players.

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