Yuvraj Singh has said the tour of England will be one of the biggest challenges of his career and that he is determined to establish himself as an automatic member of the Test side. Yuvraj has not been part of the Test XI since he was replaced by Suresh Raina on India's tour of Sri Lanka last year, and missed out on the home series against Australia and New Zealand and the tour of South Africa.
"Test cricket is one area I would like to improve and do well," Yuvraj told the Indian Express. "I want to be a permanent member of the Test side and I know that won't be easy. I will do whatever I can do to strengthen my Test records. The England tour will be one of the biggest challenges in my career, but in every challenge there is an opportunity and that's how I would like to see things from here."
Yuvraj enjoyed a triumphant World Cup, where he was named Man of the Tournament, and was expected to be part of the Test squad for the West Indies tour in the absence of some of the regulars. Unfortunately for him, he was diagnosed with a lung infection after the IPL and was forced to miss the tour in order to recuperate, but said he is now fully fit and raring to go.
"During the World Cup I was coughing a little. I thought it was due to stress but by the end of IPL 4, it worsened. When I got a medical test done, doctors found that I was suffering from upper respiratory infection with a small patch of pneumonitis in the left lung. I was advised three weeks of rest and medication.
"The Caribbean tour would have provided me with an ideal opportunity to re-claim my place in the Test team. But few things are beyond your control and my lung infection was one of them. I'm fine now and have started to train intensely at the National Cricket Academy in order to be well prepared, both mentally and physically for the England tour."
England's Test team will be full of confidence having beaten Australia in Australia to retain the Ashes before the World Cup. In home conditions, they will be difficult to beat but Yuvraj said India have the talent and experience to repeat their 2007 series triumph. Yuvraj enjoys a good record against England: he averages 46 compared to his career average of 35.63.
"I don't think past records help you much when you are facing the first ball of an innings. Your score is zero and you have to start from scratch. But England have been one of my favourite opponents, I like playing against them. Keeping fingers crossed."
Yuvraj doesn't think the swing-friendly conditions, while being difficult, will pose too much of a problem for India. "I was part of the team that won the Test series under Rahul Dravid, and the legends in the team - Rahul, Sachin [Tendulkar[, [VVS] Laxman - are always around to help. The swinging conditions are bound to be quite difficult and challenging but at the same time we are aware of those conditions. Most of our batsmen have played in England and are fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead, as do I.
"I think the idea would be to negate the new ball well and build on partnerships. We, as a team, will have to bank on partnerships, and the basics of the game don't change anywhere in the world, in any conditions."
Yuvraj is also looking forward to resuming his rivalry with Kevin Pietersen, who famously called him a "pie-chucker". "[I] Know that guy well and I am really keen to throw some more pies at him and others around him. And if my pies can contribute and get Kevin Pietersen's and some other valuable wickets, I would be really delighted."