ICC World Twenty20 2012

Lessons from Yuvraj put India in right frame of mind

India look a side that is comfortable about the challenges that lie ahead, and one cannot help but think that for them this World Twenty20 somehow comes down to the Yuvraj Singh story

David Hopps in Colombo

September 14, 2012

Comments: 45 | Text size: A | A

Yuvraj Singh and Rohit Sharma at the team hotel, Colombo, September 12, 2012
India have looked relaxed in Colombo, and that just might be the result of Yuvraj Singh's stirring comeback © AFP
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Series/Tournaments: ICC World Twenty20
Teams: India

Nobody in the India team has yet been crass enough to consider the challenges ahead in World Twenty20 and pronounce 'We'll win it for Yuvi', but there is little doubt that Yuvraj Singh's exultant return to the side after treatment for a rare germ cell cancer is having a profound effect on their approach to the tournament.

It can be deeply disturbing, particularly so, for such a blessed group of sportsmen - highly feted, well rewarded and at the height of their physical prowess - to find that one of those in their midst, one of the most celebrated players of all, has had to contend with a potentially life-threatening illness.

Merely to watch Yuvraj back in his daily training regime again, growing stronger, middling the ball once more with customary power, honing his left-arm spin or fielding in that customary languid style, is to remind them that to talk of stress, of fear of failure, or of the unbearable pressures of their lives is often to lose perspective. They should give thanks for the opportunities that lie before them and the chance to thrill and to achieve.

It will be left to the media to state that India want to 'win it for Yuvi', and maybe deep down they do. It has been striking to see India's mood on arrival in Sri Lanka. Cricket is littered with teams who arrive in relaxed fashion and then simply fail to perform, but to witness India's first steps in Sri Lanka was to witness a side that looks comfortable about the challenges that lie ahead.

The fact that they are not favourites could be part of the explanation. As R Ashwin, their offspinner, suggested: "There is less pressure on us this time around because people are talking about other teams being favourites, and a team not going in with a lot of pressure is always a dangerous side. We fancy our chances. Our batting is very dangerous in terms of batsmen who can turn the game on its head even until the last moment. That is our biggest strength."

It could also be that tournaments in Sri Lanka simply sit comfortably with India - Suresh Raina joked that all it takes is a big Sri Lanka hotel breakfast to put him in a contented mood for the day. It could even have something to do with the fact that the impact of the IPL gives India an underlying confidence that they somehow have ownership of the T20 game. But more than all this, it is somehow down to Yuvraj, the team-mate and friend whose illness caused them so much heartache.

Raina took to Twitter, more and more the accepted vehicle for a sportspersons to display their emotions, to encapsulate the feeling in the Indian dressing room, writing:

In Colombo, he expanded a little on his thoughts. "He has been phenomenal," Raina said. "Credit goes to his family and his friends. I think everybody wants him to perform well for the Indian team again: the way he showed character and responsibility to his body and showed everyone that disease can be cured.

"When I saw him playing the last game against New Zealand, he was fully pumped up and he fielded really well, bowled brilliantly and batted like he did earlier, so I think it is important for us to keep faith in him and keep supporting him, and I think it is going to be good for the Indian team."

Irfan Pathan was another player to draw strength from the way Yuvraj had fought against adversity, leading team-mates and fans to talk of a subject that is not easily faced. "Not only Indians, but every sports lover is extremely emotional about Yuvraj and is backing him," Irfan said. "If we win, a lot of credit will go to him."

It is for others in India to fret over the fact that the Sri Lankan pitches might not turn, especially early in the tournament, and with monsoon season not all that far away, the ball is even more likely to swing and seam under the Premadasa lights so exposing India's weaknesses.

Ashwin concentrated more on what Yuvraj, if he recaptures something akin to his best form, could bring to India's challenge. A couple of powerful blows against New Zealand in Chennai have got his team-mates believing again. India lost the match - and against a New Zealand team who for once are not even regarded as dark horses for the World Twenty20 - but the talk has not been of India's cricketing frailties as much as Yuvraj's physical strength.

As Sourav Ganguly, the former Indian captain, said: "It was incredible, to say the least" that he could return with such resolve. As Ganguly also remarked on a Bengali TV station, the World Twenty20, intense for sure but only demanding physical exertion for three hours at most, could be the best stage for him to complete his return.

If Dhoni ever turns to Yuvraj to fiddle through an over or two, to give himself more tactical options, never will an ephemeral bowling spell have been loaded with so much significance.

India then have cause for contentment and that is a good frame of mind in which to play T20 cricket. The game changes so quickly that decisions must be taken instantly and better decisions are often taken by the most optimistic. India's players, more steeped in IPL than most, recognise that only too well. Perhaps this is the form of the game where, despite the clamour, India's cricketers feel less pressure than in any other because fearlessness is simply the only way to play.

England might have been the first country to recognise the commercial appeal of Twenty20, but it is India which has looked it in the eye. "We play a lot of T20," Raina said. "A lot of other players are coming from other countries to the IPL and getting a lot of money and a lot of exposure. It is all about enjoying the format and enjoying each and every game. It is very important that whatever format you are in, that you are smiling on the field and enjoying it the most. Just keep working hard and enjoy each and every success."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (September 16, 2012, 12:46 GMT)

yuvis cme back s surely a big plus.....more than the emotions the man is surely an xample for not only the cricketers but for the whole mankind, and ppl who r presently fighting against d deadly thing called cancer

Posted by WC96QF on (September 15, 2012, 18:59 GMT)

Funny how ppl have selective memories. If India are weak agnst pace bowling, how did they win T20 WC2007 ? it was played in SA, remember ? If India are just flat track bullies and batting in subcontinent is easy, why dint SL, Pak or BD win ODI WC2011 ? for that matter, why dint AUS, SA or ENG win WC 2011 ? After all, Indian tracks shud be easy batting for everybody, rite ?

The fact is, India have had excellent record in all forms of the game, everywhere, for the last 10 years or so (remember NatWest victory in 2002, in ENG ?). They have had a couple of bad Test series recently, thats it. I think given the IPL experience and natural instincts displayed by Dhoni & co in this format, India has a very strong chance to win this title.

Posted by guest12345678910 on (September 15, 2012, 11:50 GMT)

ALL THE BEST FOR YUVI BHAIYAAA !!!! AND OF COURSE ALL THE BEST FOR EACH AND EVERY PLAYER OF INDIAN TEAM ... I WANT TO SEE BHAJII BACK... PLS DHONI BRING BHAJI BACK... WE WANT COOL AND POWERFUL PLAYERS LIKE BHAAJI TO PLAY WITH PAKISTAN....... :( :( :( my exams are so near!!!!!!!!! i wish they wont come fast...

Posted by megaCricFan on (September 15, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

Team india looks good, however dont understand why Rohit is in the squad. After continuous failures I am hoping that he wont be in playing 11. Also not comfortable with Harbghajan either.

Posted by HawksEyeFocused on (September 15, 2012, 9:27 GMT)

Let's hope BCCI financial muscles won't affect the results of the T20 WC this time!!! We all knew well what happened there in 2011 WC!!!

Posted by srirangam12 on (September 15, 2012, 8:59 GMT)

Well Sir, the choice of your words in the article is quite illuminating! "blessed" sportsperson (read - though not as talented as English or Australian), highly feted and well rewarded (read - they don deserve it and we don get it and thats why we don like IPL), "nobody in the Indian team has YET been crass enough" (read - they usually are.. but this time they are unusually reticent)... Go on, Sir.. We are loving every bit of this here in India!

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 8:03 GMT)

What phenomenal COURAGE !!!!!

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

If India win this one... This will be know as the best of all the fairy tales.... Hoping for the best for India and one Yuvraj....

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 7:12 GMT)

best of luck yuvi.........it does,nt matter india win or loss...we want see yuvi sixersssssss

Posted by veerakannadiga on (September 15, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

Good article. Nicely sums up the mood in the Indian camp.Whatever the result,we as Indians, are extremely proud of Yuvi.Go Yuvi Go. All the best to you and to all Indians.God Bless Us all. AMEN.

Posted by uksar on (September 15, 2012, 5:09 GMT)

i think if Virat's vintage form does not exist, then the other 10 can't even make it to the semis.

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 4:45 GMT)

Incredible Man YUVi! Im supporting for Sri Lanka! But i defiantly watch and support Yuvraj!! he is the inspiration and hope those who fight against Cancer!

Posted by   on (September 15, 2012, 2:49 GMT)

India should not be forget Test cricket while too much concentrate with T20 and dollar. India's fame is on Test matches rathar than shorter format

Posted by Shreyyyyy on (September 14, 2012, 23:54 GMT)

i think India shud play 5 bowlers incl pathan ..2 spinners n 3 medium pacers are a must a to bolster are bowlin attack..n if ne bowler has a bad day then v hav the part timers to fall upon..plus the bowlers (pathan, ashwin, bhajji) are pretty decent wit the bat hence goin in wit 5 bowlers wont weaken r battin either

Posted by ccriccfan on (September 14, 2012, 23:44 GMT)

all the best yuvi, you are a true warrior..may the trophy comes to subcontinent(SL,PAK or Ind..don't really matter)

Posted by landl47 on (September 14, 2012, 23:36 GMT)

India has a chance if they field first. If they bat first, the top teams are going to chase down whatever they make.

Posted by Nukala on (September 14, 2012, 22:38 GMT)

My team would be Sehwag, Gambhir,Virat,Yuvraj,Raina,Dhoni,Pathan, Harbhajan/Tiwary ,Ashwin, Zaheer, Balaji

Posted by harrypatel4991 on (September 14, 2012, 22:27 GMT)

every people now learn about when yuvi going to play see cancer r nothing u cant fight for it if u have faith on u and blessing for every people now indian team r going to play well good luck yuvi

Posted by torsha on (September 14, 2012, 21:47 GMT)

Win or lose, it doesn't matter. Yuvi brings sparkles everywhere. All the best Yuvi!

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 21:07 GMT)

YUVI is the Rockstar of world Cricket and make is place worth. Everybody he worth lot mort than it. Show up YUVI...................

Posted by vxttemp on (September 14, 2012, 20:47 GMT)

BTW, I always like Miandad's quote, "you will find Irfan's in every Pakistan gully(street)" Many didn't like including me and was very happy when India defeated Pak in that series. But the more I thought about that quote, the more I realized the ground reality. I'm big fan of Imran, Wasim, Waqar and Warnie after Sachin. Maybe that is becoz I prefer bowling. Anyway I hate cricket these days as it is heavily batting friendly.That's not just the tracks but also the rules.

Posted by vxttemp on (September 14, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

For India, the question is always about bowling. I don't buy flat track bullies stuff. For the record, when Aus won in 1999 or pak in 1992, it wasn't their batting that won them those trophies. Aus/SA could defend 200-220's in the 1999 WC or even Pak but India couldn't defend 252 against SA and they were trying to catch up for the rest of the tournament. If you compare any WC with any team held in any country, India's batting averages or team totals will be on PAR. Most of the time their inability to defend will put their batting under pressure. Even if you talk about tests what ever they lost recently in Aus or Eng, it is still the bowlers who couldn't knock out the lower order and that not only costs but also puts their batting under pressure. One Stuart Broad innings and one from M.Clarke(after aus down for four) turned it around. They always need to score those extra runs than the average score compared with bowling power houses.

Posted by kc69 on (September 14, 2012, 18:48 GMT)

@cricket_lover1: agree with you mate if our bowling strikes well we can definitely win and Would love to watch Kohli about how he contiues his form.

Posted by pr3m on (September 14, 2012, 18:27 GMT)

Yeah, win it for Yuvi when they couldn't beat New Zealand on their home turf. Nobody would buy that, matter of fact people might laugh at them.

Posted by Numerouno9 on (September 14, 2012, 18:12 GMT)

Yuvi brings the balance to the team. I wish Yuvraj and Irfan all the best on their comebacks. Good luck team India

Posted by Nampally on (September 14, 2012, 17:59 GMT)

Every Nation has equal chance to win T-20 matches. The most important thing is to realize that the game can sway within few balls to a Win or a loss. Hence players have to focus on each ball, whether batting, bowling or fielding.Each run saved = 2 runs scored & every catch taken is one step close to Win. Just talking about Indian batting being strong does not mean anything. If the openers bat thru' the innings, the other guys do not even come into the equation. Hence bowling & fielding are crucial since it involves the whole team. Can Indian bowlers combine to win the matches? That should be the focus. Has India got those match winning 5 bowlers (incl. 3 seamers) who can really bowl tightly with strong support from the fielding? That is the real issue. Yuvraj is only one guy. Other 10 guys must wake up!. Recent one run defeat vs. NZ should be a strong wake up call for Dhoni. 48 runs must be scored in 30 balls with 12 balls to spare & not leave it to the last ball!.Tactics win matches.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 17:49 GMT)

@crazy.mechanic David Hopps is wrong! India batted wayyyy better in Odis than WI and Aus and even SA in England. just compare all these tours last year and this year. India also has a formidable record in SL in these conditions. Hopps seems to not know that and only remembers test failings.

Posted by maddy20 on (September 14, 2012, 17:43 GMT)

All the talk about swinging ball in Premadasa under lights is a joke. Its an open secret that regardless how they might deny , SL pitches still favour spinners. So whatever Aus, Eng and the like have in mind, they can forget it and go back home. Atleast two of the three key subcontinental teams will make the semis(Pak, Ind or SL) and one of them will win it.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 17:37 GMT)

Best of Luck...Bring back the T20 Crown back.. GO India GO ..... Go Yuvi...

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 17:29 GMT)

yeah that's what i have to say ,if WC 2011 was do it or Sachin then World T20 2012 is for Yuvraj ,wow what a story . he is such a delight to watch when at its best ,though its unlikely if Yuvraj regains somewhere near to his best form ,oh my god beware opponents . He always does it on the big stage and wont be shocked if he does it in Sri Lanka too.A cricketer totally worth being your Favorite ,he was before ,is now and will always be ..and we to get t20 form in order ,its been horrible since 2007.You We Can ,best of luck team India ,lets bring the cup back .

Posted by MunafAhmed811 on (September 14, 2012, 17:18 GMT)

India has picked up right bowlers for SL the medium pacers who can swing it enough to trouble batters. Pure pace with no swing is of no use. Irfan,Balajiand Zak/Dinda can do that. Those feeling that SL pitches will favor spinners are ignoring facts. Naraine, Chuckmal, Dhananjaya, Ashwin will alll get smacked up.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 17:10 GMT)

India won 50 over world cup for Tendulkar..Now they should win the 20 over world cup for Yuvi.. All the best team India!

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

I wish the entire Indian Team good luck to win this world cup for YUVRAJ SINGH.May god bless them all and the India.

Posted by JK_1982 on (September 14, 2012, 16:56 GMT)

WI is going to win this WC.

Posted by sidh78 on (September 14, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

@siri12345 sl team just won few matches in aus eng team that also at recent time.but sl never won a major tournament or series there. u r just happy to reach in second stage or final,but never won there.sl not won a single test in aus till date.sl never won a test series in aus eng nz.but india won 3 wc on fast and bouncy pitches.50-1983-eng,t20-2007-SA,u-19-2012-Aus.cb series -2008-aus.nest west series-2001-eng(chased record 326 runs).test series in eng-2007.in nz 2010.testS in aus.draw series in SA-2011.and FAMOUS HOBART run chase of 321 runs in just 36 over agaist so called good bowling attack.(malinga so called worlds best bowler thrashed by virat by econo. 13 word record for bowler)

Posted by ToTellUTheTruth on (September 14, 2012, 16:23 GMT)

WI looks to be the team for this WC. They have a brilliant line up.

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 15:26 GMT)

strong batting but weak bowling.And why do we keep on creating drama like Drawing strength from Yuvi etc.It looks so childish.everybody is a professional sportsman and has a job to do .thats all

Posted by Romenevans on (September 14, 2012, 15:25 GMT)

Yuvi is a BIG series and match player. We won the T20 WC and ODI WC because of Yuvi's outstanding performances. He is the real big thing when it comes to ODI's and t20's. Glad he's back and so proud that he is ready to smoke stuart broad once again. LOL!

Posted by Extraz on (September 14, 2012, 15:21 GMT)

Looking forward to see yuvi in the world cup one of my favourite players from the indian team God bless you yuvi may you have a great run in the world cup from a Pak fan.

Posted by cricket_lover1 on (September 14, 2012, 14:35 GMT)

India need a good bowling attack (needs wicket taking bowlers) to win this...I would say if Indian bowlers perform well India definately have a chance otherwise....we all know..

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

After winning the opening world T20 both the Indian Captain and Indian board have become complacent about their approach towards T20, as was inevitable from the results of the next two T20 World Cups where India lost all its 3 matches after qualifying each time. Dhoni, in particular needs to be more aggressive, both in his batting and captaincy in T20s.Even in the T20 against New Zealand,his batting was the main reason of India's loss.Sanjay Manjrekar very rightly pointed out in the post match review that instead of making excuses of pitch slowing down, Dhoni should put his hands up and say"Sorry mates, my batting let the team down today"after his 23ball 22.

Its high time Dhoni changes his approach.Its India's lack of fearless approach which is hurting India at World T20 as could be seen from the 6 consecutive losses in the Pre-Semi stages in last 2 world cups.Indian players are not able to play fearless cricket coz they are afraid of their reputation built throgh IPL.It needs change.

Posted by pd8457 on (September 14, 2012, 14:12 GMT)

dude howz that crass?!Even if it is its much less crass than ' do it for ' he who will not me mentioned''. So come on team India lets do it for Yuvi!

Posted by crazy.mechanic on (September 14, 2012, 14:10 GMT)

I find it intriguing that how can a team which has so called prolific batsmen( as the column mentions- "Our batting is very dangerous in terms of batsmen who can turn the game on its head even until the last moment. That is our biggest strength") fail in the swinging and seaming conditions again as the column mentions(" the ball is even more likely to swing and seam under the Premadasa lights so exposing India's weaknesses"). Ironical!!

Posted by ProdigyA on (September 14, 2012, 14:07 GMT)

Forget Mike Horn, Yuvi is the man. Faced death in the eye and pushed it aside, it cant get bigger, tougher or worse than this. At the most you end up on the loosing side but you still will be a winner forever. Yuvi all the way...

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 13:41 GMT)

if india doesn win or atleast reach semi's then the players need to stop boasting abu havin strong batting line up in T20.. everyone in the team keeps talking abu depth and strength of batting but reality check is in the past two T20 world cups n other T20 matches performance has been disappointing ..hope they prove their worth this time around ..gud luck

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David HoppsClose
David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
Tournament Results
Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 7, 2012
West Indies won by 36 runs
Australia v West Indies at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 5, 2012
West Indies won by 74 runs
Sri Lanka v Pakistan at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 4, 2012
Sri Lanka won by 16 runs
India v South Africa at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 2, 2012
India won by 1 run
Australia v Pakistan at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 2, 2012
Pakistan won by 32 runs
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