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Player of the month: Yuvraj Singh
by Renin Wilben
Nov 28, 2008
Like last time, this time too Zaheer Khan was in the race. But yet again, he was beaten to the top by another southpaw. If it was Gautam Gambhir last time, Yuvraj Singh snatched it away from him this time. Virender Sehwag too was in contention smashing four typical half-centuries in five games. But, the left handed Yuvraj, who was under fire following his lacklustre showing in Australia and Sri Lanka, responded with two breathtaking centuries in the first two ODIs against England and sealed the crown in his favour.

The lanky batsman looked in absolutely fantastic form and was equally at ease against both pace and spin. A couple of chip shots he played off Andrew Flintoff's bowling in the first game in fact cleared the ropes - another indication of his exquisite talent. And in the second match, when India were in deep trouble, he dug the team out with some sensible batting before repeating the dose of game one towards the end.

If he was great with the willow, he wasn't too bad with the ball either. A part-timer, Yuvraj either picked up wickets at will or managed to keep the opposition batsmen quiet. The confidence he gained while batting definitely led to a marked improved in his bowling too. He got key wickets like those of Pietersen and Flintoff at crucial junctures in the game. And so severely were the Englishmen dented by Yuvraj's batsmanship, none of them had the courage to take him on when he had the ball in his hand. Sensing this, Dhoni gave the left-armer longer spells and made life miserable for the England batsmen.

Having said that, Yuvraj is a batsman at the end of the day. And with Sourav Ganguly having called it a day, a slot has been left vacant in the Test middle-order. While Mohammad Kaif, who has been left in the wilderness for reasons unknown, should have been the deserving candidate, the spot will now undoubtedly go to Yuvraj. But this is possibly the last chance for him to secure a place as a Test batsman.

Many great ODI players have not been able to make at mark at the Test level since they have failed to make the desired adjustments. And this has been the problem with Yuvraj too. The flamboyance which he displays in the shorter format has often led to his downfall in Test cricket. But Yuvraj has been around the international circuit long enough to understand this. The axing from the Test squad against Australia has undoubtedly taught him a lesson.

For the good of Indian cricket, he has come back very strongly. The hunger which he displayed in the ODIs has to be maintained in the Tests too. Only then can Yuvraj achieve consistency. The problem with extremely gifted players like Yuvraj is, when they are in form, things look all too easy for them. And an amount of boredom steps into their game. Yuvraj has to guard against this.

When Yuvraj bats like he did against England, there is an aura of invincibility around him. Sadly for Indian cricket, there haven't been enough moments like that. Whenever one feels Yuvraj has matured, there comes a lull when he looks a mere shadow of the real Yuvraj Singh. This is exactly what happened down under and in Sri Lanka. Just a couple of seasons ago, he had won three consecutive man of the series awards. So one cannot really be sure whether this will be the making of Yuvraj, the great batsman - yes he has all the potential to be one. With Yuvraj, one can only hope.

 
More Views by Renin Wilben
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  The sad demise of Windies cricket
  West Indies Vs England: A Review - Column by Renin Wilben
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