It was the first day of the Test series. A heavy downpour had hit the Lord's ground after tea and play was suspended. It's usually a time to relax and indulge in banter in the dressing room, especially if the team is comfortably placed.
A changed man
People were surprised when the fun-loving Yuvraj Singh said he was going to the gym. “What's happened to you?” someone asked. To this he retorted, “How does it affect somebody?”
“A player like Yuvraj is supposed to lead the way in fun sessions. It was a big surprise that he was the one who was ready to work extra hard. Yuvraj has certainly changed for the better; he's not the same fun-loving Yuvraj who came here for the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 Cup. He looks very serious about his game,” said a team member.
With the team packed with in-form batsmen, there was no opening in sight for Yuvraj Singh. Suresh Raina had cemented his place in the No 6 position with brilliant performances in the West Indies. The Punjab player wanted to ensure that when the opportunity presented itself, he should be ready.
As luck had it, he did not have to wait long. Yuvraj got his break when Gautam Gambhir was ruled out of the second Test due to an elbow injury. From his body language, one could make out that Tests meant a lot to him. The hunger and desire was for all to see in the way he prepared in the nets for the Trent Bridge game, batting endlessly to get into the groove.
Coming in to bat with the team in trouble after losing three quick wickets, he forged a solid partnership with Dravid. From a wobbly 139 for four, he put India in a position of strength. He was dropped early, but went on to consolidate his position.
He was playing his first Test since July 2010, but showed no signs of rustiness. Playing his natural, attacking game, he reached 50 off 96 balls, hitting nine fours. Broad finally got him when the team score was 267, but his 62 had made a vital contribution. He had helped India take the lead during his 128-run partnership with Dravid.
The standing ovation from the crowd would have made all the hard work worth it.