He’s back. The mystery surrounding Yuvraj Singh’s selection was cleared on Friday after selectors picked the cricketer for the T20 squad, eight months after he stopped playing.
The ride leading up to this moment has not been easy. The 30-year-old went from the high of propelling India to the World Cup victory in 2011 to the low of being diagnosed with cancer in February this year.
Now, after a hard-fought battle with the disease, he can’t wait to get cracking. Yuvraj is part of the squad that will face New Zealand in two T20 ties at home next month before heading to Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20, starting September 18.
“Can’t explain how I feel! Feels like I’m going to play for India for the first time,” a thrilled Yuvraj, who was declared fit by the National Cricket Academy, tweeted. “I’ve worked very hard and will go all out to prepare for the T20 World Cup!”
Doctors, too, testify he is fighting fit. “He has come out of the side-effects of chemotherapy remarkably. He can face exertion, but the exact position will be known once he is on the field,” said Dr Nitish Rohatgi, who heads the team of Indian doctors monitoring Yuvraj’s treatment.
But his selection was not without controversy. Former Indian skipper Sourav Gangulyexpressed surprise at the decision. “I am a bit surprised. I just wish he physically stays well because he has come out of a... what can I say, a big disappointment. He has recovered, which is the best thing that can happen, but it has not been a long time and I wish and pray he sustains," he said.
Former cricketer Maninder Singh called it an "emotional decision".
However, chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth backed the cricketer, saying, "Yuvraj is fit. It was crucial that he got back in the team and we are really keen on winning the World Cup for the second time. It is a powerful side."
VIDEO: Thrilled Yuvi tweets his emotions
However, his class and experience in the shortest format was the logic behind his selection apart from the popular sentiment to bring him back which definitely played a part.
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly expressed surprise at Yuvraj Singh’s inclusion in the 15-member Indian squad for the forthcoming World Twenty20.
“I have no doubt about Yuvraj’s quality as a cricketer,” he said at an event here on Friday. “He is a class act, but I am not very sure about his fitness. He is recovering from a serious illness and I hope he will be able to withstand the grind of international cricket,” he said.
Ganguly is, however, happy with the rest of the squad. “India have always been a very strong T20 side and I am happy with the selection this time too,” he said. He was particularly happy at L Balaji’s making a comeback to international cricket after almost three years.