England v India, 2nd npower Test, Trent Bridge, 2nd day July 30, 2011

Yuvraj makes promising return

In his first Test innings in a year, he posted a fighting half-century that gave India a slight edge in the game
22

It was not his defining innings. Yet it carried a lot of meaning - for him and for India. Yuvraj Singh was returning to Test cricket after a year-long hiatus in his fitful eight-year career in the longer form of the game. As the Man of the 2011 World Cup, and India's heartbeat in the tournament, walked into a sunny Trent Bridge arena, the English fans, led by the boisterous Barmy Army parked inside the Fox Road stand, started jeering. Used to taunts from much larger crowds in India, Yuvraj walked onto the field languidly. From afar, his body language suggested he would rather be sitting and sipping English tea in the beautiful dressing-room balcony.

Andrew Strauss crowded Yuvraj with four slips, a gully, point and a short leg. Immediately, James Anderson piped out two absolute jaffas that beat Yuvraj and had him jumping and rolling his eyes. "Welcome back to Test cricket," Anderson and Co. might have jibed. Off his fifth delivery, against Stuart Broad, he played softly into the hands of Kevin Pietersen at gully. Luckily the man who had labelled Yuvraj as a "pie chucker" let the easiest offering of the day slip through.

Tim Bresnan replaced Anderson, and he and Broad tried hurrying up Yuvraj with seam movement and surprise bounce. But as the minutes passed, Yuvraj settled down.

For a man coming out of the cold, Yuvraj showed an amazing ability to time the ball whenever he thought he could hit it. This was his first international match after the World Cup; he missed out on the Caribbean trip because of a lung infection he picked up during the IPL.

His position in the squad had raised a few eyebrows especially since he has never been an automatic selection in Tests over the years. He has made eight comebacks in as many years, destined to do the 12th-man duties whenever he returned. But as witnessed during the World Cup, there is a certain calmness to Yuvraj these days. Viewed wrongly, it could be judged as being aloof. But in fact he has worked hard to understand his game and his shortcomings. He has probably started accepting them and that has allowed him to move on.

Today he did not let those early hurdles stop him. With the sun out and the ball old, he understood Graeme Swann, who had not bowled till the second session, would be given the ball. England might have been confident considering the world's No.1 spinner has a terrific record against left-handers. That and Yuvraj's well-recorded troubles facing spin gave hope to the hosts.

It was also a critical time for India. After the quick departures of Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina, Rahul Dravid needed a man who could stand his ground and not get drawn into erroneous strokes. An angry Dravid had charged over to Yuvraj after Pietersen's spill and advised him.

Swann's entry only eased Yuvraj's nerves as he played with freedom both on the back foot as well as on the up. His timing was perfect as he unleashed a wide array of strokes - the sweep, the powerful cut, the flowing cover drive through silly mid-off and cover. A pull over midwicket for four off Swann took Yuvraj to a brisk fifty. Dravid, this time, joined the crowd in their applause and congratulated Yuvraj, showing how much confidence he had derived from, and had in, Yuvraj.

"After we lost Sachin there was some pressure, and then we lost Suresh. I thought Yuvraj played really well and that partnership was really good," Dravid said at the end of the day. "We knew that 60-80 over period before the new ball was crucial and there was not much help for the spinners. So we needed to cash in and Yuvraj played some shots and got to a good score."

Former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding felt England had missed a trick by not persisting with the fast men against Yuvraj. His reasoning was that Yuvraj had shown he was suspect against the moving ball and at times against the fast, short delivery. Yuvraj, though, did not panic as Raina had during his brief stint at the crease. In fact, after the early jitters, Yuvraj became more assured about which balls to leave and when to go for his shots. With Dravid at the other end, he understood how to construct an innings and not throw away a start.

Yuvraj's 128-run partnership with Dravid seemed to have put India on course for a total of 400, a score that would have put England under the cosh. That did not happen. But in those 132 minutes, Yuvraj showed he belonged. He showed he could adapt and learn quickly from his mistakes. It was a partnership that has kept India in the game and given them a slight edge.

If India go on to level the series, Yuvraj will definitely provide a headache for the team management. But they won't mind it.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sonikamal on August 1, 2011, 5:37 GMT

    Well done Yuvi ,,,,,,,You are the one man army of Team India.......with your presence in T20 World Cup and World Cup 2011 we won the trophies.....without it would not be possible,,,,,,,,,,it is perfect example for people who critcise you on various stages,,,,,,,,,during your bad patch.........Good Luck Shera,,,,,,,,,people tried to play politics with u same as they played with your dad when he use to play for India,,,,,,,,you are strong man and you done good stuff for your dad,,,,,which he always wanted you to do,,,,,,,,,,i appreciate you that you become the 4th Indian Batsmen after sachin, ganguly and dravid to score 8000 runs in ODIs,,,,,,,,,Good Luck.........

  • Aashish_goyal on July 31, 2011, 21:40 GMT

    Well played Yuvraj...@Mohit Mohan,learn to praise the legends..He has just won the 4 Man of the match and man of the series in World cup..His avg in tests is decent (36+) and when he get going nobody can stop Yuvi..everybody get chances in Cricket..so what?????.....the only thing that counts is his final score which will read a well made' Half Century' with 10 elegant 4s...you have to say something Mohit Mohan?

  • on July 31, 2011, 11:09 GMT

    You have got to be joking.......promising return by Yuvraj ? His innings was a mixture of luck and fluke.........He was struggling against the quicker bowler's swing,which isn't something new, got dropped on 4 by one of England's best fielders KP and he played against a wounded Graeme Swann,who clearly wasn't at his best due to the blow, in conditions more inclined towards pace.....He can't play swing,cant play quality spin.....He had luck by getting a reprieve on 4 and there were more chances of him getting out....First of all, he shouldn't have been looked at for the test side just because of his super efforts in WC.....but this shows that sadly there is no other youngster having the skill,temperament and technique to play at this level except the immensely gifted Suresh Raina .

  • on July 31, 2011, 9:41 GMT

    It was England's fault they dropped him and I am not surprised because their catching has been diabolical. So what he got most of his runs against Swann. England bowled Swann so he hit Swann what else was he supposed to do. He is supposed to be one of the best bowlers in the world and Yuvraj made him look rubbish. He played well. All he needs to do is survive the first half hour against the fast ball.

  • Bivish on July 31, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    hello everybody (who is criticising yuvi) lets praise him for what he did in the first innings when the others failed to make some runs apart from dravid and laxman. so be fair @ donda remember mate swann is currently the worlds best spinner. and his records at home is not bad.. so dont say like yuvi just scored runs against a bowler he is rubbish.. @ D Nithin Kumar brother just check the stat before making some comments. he only struggled against bresnan that he only managed to get 2 runs from 30 balls. apart from bresnan he played everyone beautifully. so appreciate somebody when he does good.. dont be a destructive criticiser.. well done yuvi.. our ( true indian fans) blessings are always with you!!

  • abhishek11s on July 31, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    1 innings and its a comeback ... and he was dropped on 4 ... amazing how the media/writers get carried away ... the same writer will publish his obituary if he fails in the second innings ...

  • on July 31, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    YUVRAJ IS FAR BETTER BATSMAN THEN Dhoni

  • on July 31, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    I think Yuvi did well, this is the best I have seen him play, he is certainly more determined this time, I feel Rohit and Kohli should have been part of this team as well, its no more about whether India will win this series in England, its about whether we can win after the best no 3, 4, 5 retire, Indian Selectors and fans must take some hard decisions.

  • on July 31, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    Happy for Yuvi!! Please maintain this..

  • AbAdvani on July 31, 2011, 5:39 GMT

    well played Yuvi -this is one of the most mature innings I have seen from him -there were no flamboyant strokes or needless hoiks -just plain common sense test cricket -it appears that some of Dravid's temparament has rubbed a bit on him -one thing is for sure England will not fancy bowling Swann to him -Yuvi will run away with the match if that happens.

  • Sonikamal on August 1, 2011, 5:37 GMT

    Well done Yuvi ,,,,,,,You are the one man army of Team India.......with your presence in T20 World Cup and World Cup 2011 we won the trophies.....without it would not be possible,,,,,,,,,,it is perfect example for people who critcise you on various stages,,,,,,,,,during your bad patch.........Good Luck Shera,,,,,,,,,people tried to play politics with u same as they played with your dad when he use to play for India,,,,,,,,you are strong man and you done good stuff for your dad,,,,,which he always wanted you to do,,,,,,,,,,i appreciate you that you become the 4th Indian Batsmen after sachin, ganguly and dravid to score 8000 runs in ODIs,,,,,,,,,Good Luck.........

  • Aashish_goyal on July 31, 2011, 21:40 GMT

    Well played Yuvraj...@Mohit Mohan,learn to praise the legends..He has just won the 4 Man of the match and man of the series in World cup..His avg in tests is decent (36+) and when he get going nobody can stop Yuvi..everybody get chances in Cricket..so what?????.....the only thing that counts is his final score which will read a well made' Half Century' with 10 elegant 4s...you have to say something Mohit Mohan?

  • on July 31, 2011, 11:09 GMT

    You have got to be joking.......promising return by Yuvraj ? His innings was a mixture of luck and fluke.........He was struggling against the quicker bowler's swing,which isn't something new, got dropped on 4 by one of England's best fielders KP and he played against a wounded Graeme Swann,who clearly wasn't at his best due to the blow, in conditions more inclined towards pace.....He can't play swing,cant play quality spin.....He had luck by getting a reprieve on 4 and there were more chances of him getting out....First of all, he shouldn't have been looked at for the test side just because of his super efforts in WC.....but this shows that sadly there is no other youngster having the skill,temperament and technique to play at this level except the immensely gifted Suresh Raina .

  • on July 31, 2011, 9:41 GMT

    It was England's fault they dropped him and I am not surprised because their catching has been diabolical. So what he got most of his runs against Swann. England bowled Swann so he hit Swann what else was he supposed to do. He is supposed to be one of the best bowlers in the world and Yuvraj made him look rubbish. He played well. All he needs to do is survive the first half hour against the fast ball.

  • Bivish on July 31, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    hello everybody (who is criticising yuvi) lets praise him for what he did in the first innings when the others failed to make some runs apart from dravid and laxman. so be fair @ donda remember mate swann is currently the worlds best spinner. and his records at home is not bad.. so dont say like yuvi just scored runs against a bowler he is rubbish.. @ D Nithin Kumar brother just check the stat before making some comments. he only struggled against bresnan that he only managed to get 2 runs from 30 balls. apart from bresnan he played everyone beautifully. so appreciate somebody when he does good.. dont be a destructive criticiser.. well done yuvi.. our ( true indian fans) blessings are always with you!!

  • abhishek11s on July 31, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    1 innings and its a comeback ... and he was dropped on 4 ... amazing how the media/writers get carried away ... the same writer will publish his obituary if he fails in the second innings ...

  • on July 31, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    YUVRAJ IS FAR BETTER BATSMAN THEN Dhoni

  • on July 31, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    I think Yuvi did well, this is the best I have seen him play, he is certainly more determined this time, I feel Rohit and Kohli should have been part of this team as well, its no more about whether India will win this series in England, its about whether we can win after the best no 3, 4, 5 retire, Indian Selectors and fans must take some hard decisions.

  • on July 31, 2011, 5:40 GMT

    Happy for Yuvi!! Please maintain this..

  • AbAdvani on July 31, 2011, 5:39 GMT

    well played Yuvi -this is one of the most mature innings I have seen from him -there were no flamboyant strokes or needless hoiks -just plain common sense test cricket -it appears that some of Dravid's temparament has rubbed a bit on him -one thing is for sure England will not fancy bowling Swann to him -Yuvi will run away with the match if that happens.

  • Sashank_sharma on July 31, 2011, 5:24 GMT

    I am one of his biggest fans. There's no one who has got that style and grace and the range of shots. There's no other player who can match up with Sachin, Sehwag and yuvraj.. Also he has got a great one day record against england. Hope he transfers some into tests too.,...

  • kingcobra85 on July 31, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    some who just read the title of the article would think he scored a double hundred without give a sniff ....") he was hopeless hoping like a kangaroo every ball in the first three overs and he was dropped and he managed only 67 most of the runs against swann who was rubbish

    let him face some fast bowling in second innings then we can make a judgement

  • donda on July 31, 2011, 4:50 GMT

    This series and next series down under will decide how good indian batting is. It's not about yuvi its all about all the legends india have and how they play next 7 to 6 test matches to remain #1 team in the world.

    This is pressure cooker and India is first time under pressure after 2 years. So lets see how good Raina, Yuvi and all backup batsmen are as well.

    Today was good day for India but batting in 4th innings will not be easy at all.

    Watch out, only VVS can do miracle here. I bet.

  • on July 31, 2011, 4:47 GMT

    Yes, Yuvraj played brilliantly along with dravid in hard seaming conditions where other other batsman are struggling to play. No doubt, that yuvi got great talent. The only problem with him in past was lack of commitment and concentration towards his batting thus that paid him. Now from world cup yuvraj is showing good commitment & hardwork and playing sensibly well. I think Yuvraj needs encouragement and support from all to seal permanent place in test team, if he does that it would be great asset for indian test team with batsman of great caliber with useful left-arm spin bowling.

  • on July 31, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    if you look at the bulk of score, it was only against swann! had broad and anderson continued their spell facing Yuvraj, he must have been in hut when he is in 10 or 20. Looking at the ball he got out, one can easy say, he lost patience.

  • NRI- on July 31, 2011, 2:29 GMT

    All this commentary is a bit of nonsense. What if Raina's catch had been dropped and Yuvraj's held? Yuvraj would have been out for very a low score and Raina may have made a fifty or even an eighty. Of course if Raina had been dropped, Yuvraj would have come to the crease much later. When Gambhir and Sehwag are back, Mukund will be dropped and one of Yuvraj and Raina has to go. At the moment it looks like Raina is still ahead. But Rahane scored brilliantly against the Aus Academy XI so really Rahane and Rohit should be in the top 7 batters with the usual top five. It grates me when people say Rohit has had many chances - he has had NONE. Zero. No test cricket at all for someone who can play quality bowling, short stuff and averages over 60 in first class cricket.

  • on July 31, 2011, 2:23 GMT

    yuvi nice played he best for test matches also................

  • xylo on July 31, 2011, 1:22 GMT

    what is with cricinfo editors writing redemption stories after just one innings? first, it was Badrinath who "belonged" after one T20 inning. Next it was the turn of Raina, after putting together a stand with VVS in the carribean. And now, it is the turn of Yuvraj? Could we wait for at least a couple of innings before showering with redemption paeans?

  • Herath-UK on July 31, 2011, 0:15 GMT

    I do not think Yuraj will shine in this series;his half century was a scrappy one and I did not think he looked promising at all. Ranil Herath -Kent

  • _mesh on July 31, 2011, 0:15 GMT

    i think the question is not how yuvi played, but how he got out or almost got out on a couple of occasions.. there is no question abt his batting abilities, but it's abt the application of the talent.. can he devlope the discipline for test cric?.. esp for overseas conditions.. the way others like dravid etc hv done and dhoni etc hv not. i hope he shows this maturity (the way he showd it throughout the WC). he needs some luck too (like KP's blunder today). i hope he develops into a good test batsman, else it'll b diff fill the vacuum that will b created after the 3 greats retire in next 2-3 years and it'll also b such a waste of talent.

  • AnotherCricketFan on July 30, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    Yuvraj is going to be a headache for sure. This guy with this 50+ innings is going to do another typical Indian mantra. Score a decent score a 50+, a century & have your place sealed for another 5 Tests. A meaningless match or a minnow will walk by to keep that cycle operating.

    YS is one such cricketer. If this is the philosophy then lets make the youngsters Raina, Rohit, Virat and the likes and let them learn through failures. justify their position based on a 50 here and a 50 there

    Look at the captain MSD. Look at the great Sachin. If he is so great why is he so inconsistent against quality - it really matters - opposition.

    In the 70s, during the WI visit the BCCI had the guts to drop the captain of Delhi Test and make him thr 12th man. I dont think they can do that to MSD - what was his biggest contribution of late? World cup was Yuvraj's show and India was even manhandled in the prelims. The draw ensured that India makes it to the knockout

    This is the curse of India

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on July 30, 2011, 23:22 GMT

    Well played Yuvraj Singh. Keep your feet grounded like that rarest of rare genius Rahul 'Eveready' Dravid. Learn as much as you can by seeing him, before he retires. Because if you start listening to him, it might be hard for the younger generation to comprehend him let alone emulating him. No disrespect to you Yuvraj. You are very talented. Just some weaknesses, fitness and some temperament issues. May you scale new heights and put team in front of everything else. Everytime. Without fail. People can't help but bless you, then.

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  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on July 30, 2011, 23:22 GMT

    Well played Yuvraj Singh. Keep your feet grounded like that rarest of rare genius Rahul 'Eveready' Dravid. Learn as much as you can by seeing him, before he retires. Because if you start listening to him, it might be hard for the younger generation to comprehend him let alone emulating him. No disrespect to you Yuvraj. You are very talented. Just some weaknesses, fitness and some temperament issues. May you scale new heights and put team in front of everything else. Everytime. Without fail. People can't help but bless you, then.

  • AnotherCricketFan on July 30, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    Yuvraj is going to be a headache for sure. This guy with this 50+ innings is going to do another typical Indian mantra. Score a decent score a 50+, a century & have your place sealed for another 5 Tests. A meaningless match or a minnow will walk by to keep that cycle operating.

    YS is one such cricketer. If this is the philosophy then lets make the youngsters Raina, Rohit, Virat and the likes and let them learn through failures. justify their position based on a 50 here and a 50 there

    Look at the captain MSD. Look at the great Sachin. If he is so great why is he so inconsistent against quality - it really matters - opposition.

    In the 70s, during the WI visit the BCCI had the guts to drop the captain of Delhi Test and make him thr 12th man. I dont think they can do that to MSD - what was his biggest contribution of late? World cup was Yuvraj's show and India was even manhandled in the prelims. The draw ensured that India makes it to the knockout

    This is the curse of India

  • _mesh on July 31, 2011, 0:15 GMT

    i think the question is not how yuvi played, but how he got out or almost got out on a couple of occasions.. there is no question abt his batting abilities, but it's abt the application of the talent.. can he devlope the discipline for test cric?.. esp for overseas conditions.. the way others like dravid etc hv done and dhoni etc hv not. i hope he shows this maturity (the way he showd it throughout the WC). he needs some luck too (like KP's blunder today). i hope he develops into a good test batsman, else it'll b diff fill the vacuum that will b created after the 3 greats retire in next 2-3 years and it'll also b such a waste of talent.

  • Herath-UK on July 31, 2011, 0:15 GMT

    I do not think Yuraj will shine in this series;his half century was a scrappy one and I did not think he looked promising at all. Ranil Herath -Kent

  • xylo on July 31, 2011, 1:22 GMT

    what is with cricinfo editors writing redemption stories after just one innings? first, it was Badrinath who "belonged" after one T20 inning. Next it was the turn of Raina, after putting together a stand with VVS in the carribean. And now, it is the turn of Yuvraj? Could we wait for at least a couple of innings before showering with redemption paeans?

  • on July 31, 2011, 2:23 GMT

    yuvi nice played he best for test matches also................

  • NRI- on July 31, 2011, 2:29 GMT

    All this commentary is a bit of nonsense. What if Raina's catch had been dropped and Yuvraj's held? Yuvraj would have been out for very a low score and Raina may have made a fifty or even an eighty. Of course if Raina had been dropped, Yuvraj would have come to the crease much later. When Gambhir and Sehwag are back, Mukund will be dropped and one of Yuvraj and Raina has to go. At the moment it looks like Raina is still ahead. But Rahane scored brilliantly against the Aus Academy XI so really Rahane and Rohit should be in the top 7 batters with the usual top five. It grates me when people say Rohit has had many chances - he has had NONE. Zero. No test cricket at all for someone who can play quality bowling, short stuff and averages over 60 in first class cricket.

  • on July 31, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    if you look at the bulk of score, it was only against swann! had broad and anderson continued their spell facing Yuvraj, he must have been in hut when he is in 10 or 20. Looking at the ball he got out, one can easy say, he lost patience.

  • on July 31, 2011, 4:47 GMT

    Yes, Yuvraj played brilliantly along with dravid in hard seaming conditions where other other batsman are struggling to play. No doubt, that yuvi got great talent. The only problem with him in past was lack of commitment and concentration towards his batting thus that paid him. Now from world cup yuvraj is showing good commitment & hardwork and playing sensibly well. I think Yuvraj needs encouragement and support from all to seal permanent place in test team, if he does that it would be great asset for indian test team with batsman of great caliber with useful left-arm spin bowling.

  • donda on July 31, 2011, 4:50 GMT

    This series and next series down under will decide how good indian batting is. It's not about yuvi its all about all the legends india have and how they play next 7 to 6 test matches to remain #1 team in the world.

    This is pressure cooker and India is first time under pressure after 2 years. So lets see how good Raina, Yuvi and all backup batsmen are as well.

    Today was good day for India but batting in 4th innings will not be easy at all.

    Watch out, only VVS can do miracle here. I bet.