Bruised and battered, can Yuvraj Singh rise from the ashes?One of India's greatest match winners in limited-overs cricket, Yuvraj Singh is now staring down the barrel after his omission from India's ODI squad against Australia.
Since being axed from the India squad for Sri Lanka ODIs, veteran warhorse Yuvraj Singh has once again find himself in the dark after being ignored by the selection committee for the upcoming limited-overs series against Australia at home. After the routing of Sri Lanka in Tests 3-0, ODIs 5-0 and in the lone T20I, India are scheduled to play Australia, who will be touring India for five ODIs and three T20Is. Starting with the first ODI on 17 September in Chennai, India will be engaged in a tough limited-overs battle with the Aussies till October 13.
Yuvraj Singh - this is one such name in Indian cricket which has given our desi fans countless moments of joy since the day he has made his debut in 2000 wearing the national outfit during the ICC Knockout Trophy which is now famously known as 'Champions Trophy'. From being a bold and carefree lad with immense talent - Yuvraj evolved into a champion cricketer who led India to various triumphs at many prestigious global events.
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Once known for lethargic and unimpressive approach on the field, the Indian cricket team has come a long way in terms of setting the fielding standards in world cricket. Before the Virat Kohlis, Rohit Sharmas and Ravindra Jadejas started throwing themselves on the field, it is the likes of - Yuvraj, Mohammad Kaif or Suresh Raina who set the bar high with their exemplary fielding skills.
Recently, when the 35-year old Yuvraj failed to clear the 'Yo-Yo' endurance test at the National Cricket Academy, the voices which were crooning in the corner about Yuvraj's outcast from the India team became loud and easily audible. The reason for Yuvraj's axing from the Sri Lanka limited-overs series was directly associated with his failure to clear the endurance test. The 'Yo-Yo' endurance test is an advanced version of the 'beep' test that was used by teams of earlier generations to monitor the fitness levels of the players. The present Indian team is the fittest by a fair distance and any such laggard is considered as a failure.
With 2019 World Cup being considered as the next holy grail, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), national selectors, captain Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri are currently on an experimental spree to try out different combinations. India tried youngsters like KL Rahul, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav in the middle-order and provided them best of opportunities to acclimatize with the new roles to add an X-factor to the team.
Amidst all this, chances of Yuvraj making a return to India's playing XI looks very bleak at the moment. Hailed as one of the modern-day greats and a match-winner for India in limited-over cricketers, Yuvraj is slowly and steadily moving towards a fading end of his stellar career.
Barring occasional glimpses of his old self, the southpaw has not really been able to set the stage on fire in international cricket. Also, the constant pressure to perform, because of talented bench strength, Yuvraj has been kept on his heels by the new young batters.
His 150-run knock against England in Cuttack earlier this year was a testament to his class in ODI cricket which separates him from the best in the world. Yuvraj's 256-run stand with his old partner MS Dhoni was a special sight for every Indian cricket lover and a treat to watch.
Riding on his impressive show in the series, Yuvraj made it to the Indian team for the ICC Champions Trophy squad ahead of the likes of Raina, Rishabh Pant. But, despite playing a majestic knock off 53 runs in just 32 deliveries in the first match against Pakistan, Yuvraj failed to carry his form in the remaining matches. The 35-year-old last played an ODI in June this year, managing to score 39 runs against West Indies. In his last seven ODIs, the Punjab cricketer has managed to score just 162 runs.
The odds are stacked heavily against his favour at present, and from an outside point of view - the "fighter" of Indian cricket looks like a finished commodity but anyone who has closely followed the journey of this Chandigarh-born knows that miracles happen in sport and it certainly can if your name is - Yuvraj Singh.