Friday, September 7, 2012

India vs New Zealand 1st T20: Yuvraj Singh set to return to international cricket

India vs New Zealand 1st T20: Yuvraj Singh set to return to international cricket

Visakhapatnam: After winning his battle against a rare germ cell cancer, India`s World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh would be the cynosure of all eyes when he starts his journey back to international cricket with the first Twenty20 match against New Zealand on Saturday.

Yuvraj was diagnosed with the ailment between his lungs within months of winning the Man of the Tournament award in the 2011 World Cup.

His career looked in jeopardy when the diagnosis was first revealed but the flamboyant all-rounder fought back after undergoing three cycles of chemotherapy.

The 30-year-old left-hander has been training hard at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore and would be looking to make a statement when he returns to the cricket field in tomorrow`s match.

It is something that has never happened on the cricket field and Yuvraj will go on to inspire generations when he wears the Indian colours again after more than nine months.

Behind all the limelight he hogged after he returned home, Yuvraj put in hours sweating out at the NCA to regain the fitness and agility, for which he was known for.

Whether he would make a stupendous comeback on his return tomorrow or not but the fact that he beat cancer will now be a part of cricketing folklore.

"I had played three practice games at NCA. I will get some serious match practice in the two matches against New Zealand scheduled September 8 and 11," he said.

"Then, I would be playing two more practice matches. So, you see, I will be having seven games before the World Cup. I will be having enough match practice," he added.

His last International appearance was the Kolkata Test against the West Indies in November last year, while it was more than a year ago when he last played a T20 (against South Africa on January 9, 2011).

The two T20Is against New Zealand will start India`s countdown for the fourth edition the World Twenty20 that will get underway in Sri Lanka on September 18. 

As it`s a jam-packed Twenty20 calendar ahead -- World T20 followed by the Champions League in South Africa -- India would be keen for a winning start against the Kiwis.

The hosts could not have started their home season on a better note having routed the visitors 2-0 in the just-concluded two-Test series.

The T20 series against New Zealand will also mark the return of Harbhajan Singh, the star off-spinner who went out of favour after being blanked 0-4 in the disastrous England tour in July-August last year.

Both Yuvraj and Harbhajan were part of India`s successful campaigns in the ODI and Twenty20 World Cup (in 2007 and 2011).

Form-wise, Virat Kohli has been the man of all formats for India in recent past, with many match-winning knocks under his belt.

The youngster will once again form the core of Indian batting, while Suresh Raina, known for his exploits in the shorter formats, will look to give the finishing.

In the middle-order Rohit Sharma will have to prove his worth soon enough or the struggling batsman might end up losing his spot to the talented Manoj Tiwary, who has been waiting in the wings.

The opening duo of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are also yet to fire.

Sehwag is yet to convert his starts and is long due for a big score, while Gambhir too has struggled in the Test series.

But he can draw confidence from the fact that he had a fine outing in India`s 4-1 and 1-0 victory in ODI and T20 series in Sri Lanka.

The very mention of Dr YSR Reddy ACA-VDCA Stadium, perched on the foothills of Simhachalam forests on the outskirts of the city, makes one remember the great knock of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Dhoni had announced his arrival with a magnificent 148 against Pakistan back in 2005 and the Indian skipper would look forward to the belter where India have never lost from four ODIs.

Doug Bracewell and Tim Southee are the Kiwis pace spearhead while 20-year-old Adam Milne will look to impress with his searing pace for the first time in sub-continental conditions.

Sun has been shining bright after last few days of bad weather and the Visakhapatnam T20 is set to enthral the cricket-starved crowd of this coastal port city of Andhra Pradesh.

The second and final T20I is slated in Chennai on September 11.

Teams (from):

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Laxmipathy Balaji, Ashok Dinda, Piyush Chawla and Manoj Tiwary.

New Zealand: Ross Taylor (c), Brendon McCullum (wk), Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, James Franklin, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, Doug Bracewell, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Nathan McCullum, Ronnie Hira, Kyle Mills and BJ Watling.

Yuvraj Singh takes centrestage in opening T20 encounter against New Zealand

Yuvraj Singh takes centrestage in opening T20 encounter against New Zealand

Yuvraj Singh takes centrestage in opening T20 encounter against New Zealand

By Dhananjay Devasper

September 8, 2012 marks the comeback of India's World Cup hero, Yuvraj Singh. The media coverage has been relentless about the Prince, who cheated death to make a comeback. The cacophony is so loud that everything else from a sporting perspective seems to be drowned out. The fact that it is a T20 match between India and NZ seems to have taken a backseat.
Yuvraj also seems to downplay all the attention on his comeback. He's obviously enjoying all the attention, but the real story will be, that of his on-field performance. Will he make a significant contribution to the team on his comeback or will it be an anti-climax of sorts?
While euphoria is one thing, hard facts also need to be faced. It's been a while since Yuvraj hasn't played a competitive match in a very long time and it's just possible he might be rusty. He may not live up to the hype and the expectations, but being an important cog in the wheel for India's T20 World Cup campaign, especially in the subcontinent, he will be expected to perform. Everyone will be curious if Yuvraj is fit enough, especially with the T20 World Cup around the corner. There is no denying that the selectors have taken a big risk by selecting him for the World Cup.
The India versus New Zealand contest is a bit more than a Yuvraj story. The approach will definitely be to try out a few strategies before the World Cup. So it's possible that Mahendra Singh Dhoni may try out a few of his gambles in these matches. Other than the first T20 World Cup, where India surprised everyone by winning the tournament, all other outings have paled in comparison. India may host the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), but its T20 performances have been nothing to boast of. Currently they are a lowly-ranked 8th.


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