India v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Bangalore, 1st day December 8, 2007

'I should have got 200' - Yuvraj



Yuvraj Singh: "I am delighted that Sourav [Ganguly] and I hauled the team out of a tough situation, from 61 for 4" © AFP

When Yuvraj Singh cracked a sensational 358 in the final of the Cooch Behar Trophy - an under-19 tournament - in 1999-2000, his father is supposed to have admonished him for not going on to make a quadruple century. He expected another call today, talking about a double-hundred, but one which came with heartfelt congratulations as well.

"One hundred and sixty-nine is a lot of runs," said Yuvraj, talking about his third Test hundred, all of which have come against Pakistan. "I should have got 200, and I am disappointed from a personal point of view that I did not. But I am delighted that Sourav and I hauled the team out of a tough situation, from 61 for 4. What is most important for me is that the team is in a good position."

It's been nearly 18 months since Yuvraj last played in a Test and he admitted to the frustrations during the intervening period. He was also aware that he could miss out when India walk out to the park in Melbourne to take on Australia on Boxing Day. "It feels bad to sit out, but you must see how many great players we have in the middle order," he said. "Rahul, Sachin, Laxman and Sourav all have very good Test records. Going out to bat today, I wasn't worried about the Australia tour and whether I can secure my place in the XI. I wanted to play for the team, to help the team win the Test."

Was he hurt at being left out for so long, despite staking his claim so emphatically in the one-day arena? "I had a very bad Test series in the West Indies, and after that, the rest of the batsmen all played well," he said. "I have myself to blame. I stayed motivated, worked hard on my game, and was determined to take my chance when it came my way again. I always knew that I could do well in Test cricket. You have time to settle down and play yourself in. To me, Test cricket is the main thing."

Yuvraj might have hogged the headlines today but [Yasir] Arafat's chance will come. With a name like that, headline writers will struggle to control the urge

Yuvraj walked in with India in a pickle. Yasir Arafat, the debutant medium-pacer, had made a mess of the top order by surprising a few with zip off the pitch. The pitch assisted him, as Arafat himself admitted, but it still required a good spell to remove three prized scalps. Hailing from Rawalpindi, he doesn't possess the furious pace of his city-mate Shoaib Akhtar but makes up with accuracy. In fact one Pakistan newspaper recently referred to him as the Rawalpindi Mail [in contrast with the more speedy Express].

Arafat had to first come to terms with making his debut. By the first session, he was enjoying a fairytale start. "I was playing domestic cricket in Pakistan and I didn't think I will be called up," he said. "People consider me as an allrounder suited to one-dayers. I was surprised I got a call up. I didn't think much about Tests. But I got a chance because of injuries. And now I've made a debut. The pitch was supporting the fast bowlers early on. I wanted to bowl on and outside off and got wickets because of that. But I didn't think I'll get such important wickets so early."

The rest of the day wasn't as rosy. "After lunch it became a good wicket. It was playing very easy, like a good batting track. It was very frustrating for me and the team. But again, they played well. But credit to the batsmen. Yuvraj is a very talented cricketer and his innings was tremendous today." Yuvraj might have hogged the headlines today but Arafat's chance will come. With a name like that, headline writers will struggle to control the urge.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo