North Zone batsman Yuvraj Singh plays a shot on his way to an unbeaten century against Central Zone on the first day of the Duleep Trophy semi final match in Hyderabad. PTI
After a successful comeback to the shortest version of the game in the recently concluded World Cup T20, World cup champion and cancer-survivor cricketer Yuvraj Singh has now set his sights on making it to the Test squad for the upcoming home series against England.
Yuvraj Singh smashed 208 on his return to first-class cricket to stake a claim on Monday in India's team for next month's Test series against England.
The left-hander hit 33 boundaries and three sixes for North Zone before being dismissed on the second day of the four-day Duleep Trophy semi-final against Central Zone in Hyderabad.
Yuvraj, 30, who was judged man of the tournament in India's 50-over World Cup triumph last year, was treated for a rare germ-cell cancer between his lungs in the United States earlier this year.
He returned after energy-sapping chemotherapy treatment in April and by August had been fast-tracked into the Indian team for the recent World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
Yuvraj ended the tournament with 66 runs in four innings and claimed eight wickets in five matches, the second highest among Indian bowlers after seamer Lakshmipathy Balaji's nine wickets.
India, the 2007 ODI champions, won four of their five matches but failed to reach the semi-finals of the event eventually won by the West Indies.
Yuvraj's double-century is certain to put him in line for a recall when the four-Test series against England starts in Ahmedabad on November 15.
He has not played Test cricket since November last year when he turned out for two matches against the touring West Indies.
Yuvraj has played 37 Tests since his international debut in 2000, scoring 1,775 runs at an average of 34.80 with three centuries. He has also claimed nine Test wickets with his left-arm spin.
A lot of experts including former India captain Sourav Ganguly had questioned his early return to national team but Yuvraj Singh maintains that his double century in the Duleep Trophy match against Central Zone was not an answer to his critics.
"I was not trying to prove any point to anyone. My aim was to go and enjoy myself out there in the middle. I wanted to have fun," an elated Yuvraj told mediapersons after the end of the second day's play.
The innings of 208 has been a strong message to the national selectors who are yet to completely sort out the middle-order worries in the longer version but the stylish left-hander doesn't want to look that far ahead.
"At this point of time, I don't want to look too far ahead. For me, it is important that I take one match at a time," he said.
More than the amount of runs he scored, Yuvraj found it more satisfying that he had spent more than five hours in the middle which is a fair indication that he has recovered even faster than what one expected him to.
"Especially, after what I went through, it really felt good that I batted for so long. What makes this double hundred special is that I had spent a good amount of time in the middle which is satisfying."
"Everyone knows that T20 is very different from playing first class cricket. In the T20s, you don't have time to plan but that was not the case over here. I had enough time to plan my innings and that really helped."
The men who came back
Yuvraj Singh’s double century on his first-class return has brightened his chances for a Test comeback. Here are some instances of players using the domestic competition to regain their India spots
The ‘comeback king’ made his most famous return by stroking 185 for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy final in 1982 to overcome Karnataka. It also heralded the courageous batsman’s most productive phase, including 5 tons in Pakistan & West Indies & the 1983 World Cup win.
The batsman was banished after making just one on his India debut in an ODI versus Pakistan in Mohali in 1999. But his strong domestic showing ensured his comeback after nine months. He sealed a permanent India spot with a MoM effort in an ODI vs Australia in March 2001.
Sidelined after a forgettable India debut on the ’91-92 tour of Australia and heavily criticised for his attitude, he returned to the domestic scene and performed over four seasons, getting an India recall on the ’96 England tour where he made his Test debut and cemented his spot.
Struggling due to inconsistent form, the left-arm paceman was dropped from the India side in 2006 but hit the domestic circuit and then headed off to England to play for Worcestershire, where he regained his rhythm, pace and movement playing day in and day out to return stronger.
Other related stories:
Fit Yuvraj Singh eyes Test team berth against visiting England
Yuvraj comes back a calm, grown-up man
International cricketers welcome Yuvraj's come back