It might only have been a practice match, but for Yuvraj Singh, it was a day to savour. His 172, with 13 sixes and 8 fours off only 120 balls, was a knock of remarkably clean striking, and will give him some much-needed confidence going into the ODI series.
Yuvraj has had his share of difficulties against spin in the past, especially against Muttiah Muralitharan, and without confidence, the task on hand would have been that much harder.
“Murali and Mendis together make it a top attack. We will have to do very well to defeat Sri Lanka,” said Yuvraj.
“This was also an international-class attack. The knock gave me a lot of confidence. I had prepared well before coming here, and I hope can continue this form.”
But while it was important to spend time out in the middle and get confidence under the belt, Yuvraj also felt that it was important to get the right result from the practice match. “Winning the match was very important because we were the favourites going into the game,” he said. “So it’s good that we did that here.”
Yuvraj, who last played Test cricket in the home series against South Africa, and was dropped for the Tests here, said that missing out in the Tests did not prompt a different approach.
“There's always the motivation to score runs whether you miss out or you don’t. You always want to perform at your best. I want to make sure this time when I go to Sri Lanka, I’ll better my performances from last time.”
A tall batsman who likes the ball coming onto bat, Yuvraj has not always enjoyed batting on slow, low pitches, but this time around the story could be different.
“I prepared keeping in mind the conditions in Sri Lanka, the targets of the team, and it’s nice that I succeeded immediately in the practice match,” said the vice-captain.
“The pitch was a little double-paced, the ball wasn’t always coming on. My intention was to spend time in the middle because I haven’t played for a while. Then I played my strokes.”
At the same time, Yuvraj conceded that conditions in Dambulla could be different and that the team needed to be flexible in its batting order. “It’s important we play according to the conditions and not people’s expectations. We never have a fixed batting line-up. The player best suited for a particular situation goes in. The batting order's good so I am sure we are going to carry on with this.”
Yuvraj spent most of the Indian fielding back in the dressing-room, with a stiff back, but was sure that this would be no problem going into the first ODI.