24 Jan 2013
A Yuvraj Singh special could be just around the corner
When he turns up for the fourth One-Day International against England on Wednesday (January 23), Yuvraj Singh will not experience the same emotions Ravindra Jadeja did when he played in front of his home fans in Rajkot on January 11, or Mahendra Singh Dhoni did in front of an adoring Ranchi crowd on January 19.
After all, while it was the first such experience for Jadeja and Dhoni, Yuvraj has already played plenty of international cricket at the PCA Stadium in Mohali, not too far away from Chandigarh where he was born more than 31 years ago.
Saying that, a multitude of other bitter-sweet emotions must have coursed through Yuvraj when he stepped on to the park - the last of the 15-member Indian contingent to do so - on Monday (January 21) for the team's first training session ahead of that fourth ODI. Sweet, because, among other things, it was here that in October 2003 he made his Test debut. Bitter, largely because it was at the same ground, during the Champions Trophy in 2006, he sustained a sickening knee injury while playing kho-kho that all but threatened to end his career.
Wednesday will mark Yuvraj's first international appearance at the PCA Stadium since the semifinal of the World Cup against Pakistan, on March 30, 2011. Yuvraj was dismissed for a first-ball duck by Wahab Riaz, but hit back with the ball like he did for most of the competition, picking up Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan to play his part in India's celebrated 29-run triumph.
Between then - the highs of World Cup success as well as being named the Player of the Tournament - and now, Yuvraj has battled a life-threatening illness and emerged as a wonderful role model, providing hope to millions who have sought to draw strength, energy and inspiration from his no-holds-barred war against cancer. Riding on a groundswell of support and wishes from his family, friends and fans, and determined to regain his place on the international cricketing stage, Yuvraj has wended his way back into the national team, if only in the limited-overs formats for now.