What Sachin Tendulkar means to screaming fans at the Wankhede, Yuvraj Singh perhaps carries the same burden of expectations whenever he steps on his home ground.
Dropped from the squad at the beginning of the year, Yuvraj has made a successful comeback. After guiding India to victory in an improbable chase in the T20 match against Australia, Yuvraj will be eager to have a go at the bowlers on his home ground, where the bouncy pitch is conducive to his style of batting.
After spending almost two months in France, working on his fitness with Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj has till now made the right moves.
Leading India ‘A’ against the West Indies ‘A’, he notched up 224 runs in the three unofficial one-day matches, which included a century and a half-century. Then, he silenced critics with the match-winning 77 in the T20.
On a day when the Australians decided to skip practice, Yuvraj sweated it out at the nets. After a lengthy batting session, he was back for throw-downs with fielding coach Trevor Penney, under the watchful eyes of coach, Duncan Fletcher, long after everyone had left.
As the selectors get ready to pick the team for the rest of the series, Yuvraj will have added pressure and incentive to deliver.
For someone like Bhupinder Singh Sr, the Punjab Ranji coach and former national selector, who has seen Yuvi from close quarters, the transformation from a youngster trying to get into the India team to an established player, has been inspiring.
“It’s heartening to see Yuvi back in the squad. After knowing what he has gone through with his illness and then being dropped from the squad, the present Yuvi is in stark contrast to what I saw earlier. He looks in good shape and there is determination to succeed. His natural ability with the bat was always there, the intent is unmistakable now. The ordeal has made him wiser too,” he said.