By Syed Khalid Mahmood
The resumption of England’s tour to India has gladdened the hearts of millions of cricket enthusiasts all over the world but one man to whom this could mean he most is none other than the mercurial Yuvraj Singh.
The enterprising left-hander, who has had an outstanding ODI series, has been rewarded by the selectors as he has found his way in the Test squad for the two-Test series against England starting on December 11.
It’s a golden opportunity for Yuvraj, having phenomenal record in the limited overs games, to cement a place in the Test side. He has been deemed as the natural successor to the now retired former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly.
There are quite a few similarities between Yuvraj and Ganguly. Both of them believe in taking the attack to the opposition. India certainly needs an explosive matter at number six following the grafters of the caliber of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman all of whom are experts in playing long innings.
Yuvraj hasn’t enjoyed yet the kind of consistency that was being expected from him in the limited opportunities having coming his way. To be fair with him, he was not given a long enough run to settle in the team.
Obviously it was not easy to walk into the middle-order already having four world class batsmen. He was drafted in the playing even only when one of the fabulous four was struggling for form or fitness.
With Ganguly having now retired, Yuvraj should not have the pressure of being there just for an interim period. If he fires in the Test matches in the manner he has done in One-day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals there is no reason why he should be a regular member of the Indian Test team for a number of years.
There are two major factors in Yuvraj’s favour now and he should make the most of them. Number one the retirement of Ganguly takes the press off his head. He can be assured of a place in the Test side now if he keeps scoring prolifically.
Number two he has been in exceptional form during the past few weeks. He was absolutely magnificent in the one-dayers having blasted back to back hundreds. He finds himself in a very good position now to carry this terrific form into the Test matches. He should fancy his chances of dominating the same set of England bowlers in the two Tests as well.
It’s just a matter of putting things together for Yuvraj. If he plays his natural aggressive cricket without losing his composure he looks all set for big scores in Test cricket too. He has tremendous potential and he needs to improve his Test record. He deserves better figures than 1050 runs in 23 games spread over a period of five years.
The kind of attacking cricket the Indians have been playing lately Yuvraj fits perfectly in their plans. He has a great opportunity to prove to the world that he has the talents to succeed in the longer version of the game too.
December 5, 2008