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Yuvraj keeps it straight and simple

Yuvi says he expects people to be patient as every player goes through a rough patch, reports Atreyo Mukhopadhyay.
By Atreyo Mukhopadhyay | Hindustan Times, Sydney
UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2008 01:53 AM IST

With the Australian media keeping focus firmly on the Indian Premier League auctions which was described as the "Mumbai Meat Market" in one of the dailies in Adelaide, the men worth millions appropriately checked into the financial capital of Australia on Wednesday.

It was quite a change in ambience and surroundings in the bustling Harbour City, as Sydney is also known as, after the serenity of Adelaide although the Indian team looked quietly confident coming off Tuesday's nerve-tingling victory. A look of relief was evident on the faces with a berth in the finals looking a distinct possibility.

They had reason to be relieved too and this had nothing to do with the huge sums some of them were assured a little later.

The top order was struggling still, but the middle had done better at last thanks to Yuvraj Singh. Probably that's why Mahendra Singh Dhoni was sporting a smile, well before knowing that more happiness was in store for him.

A crucial win
Describing it as an important win and one of the more memorable in his brief stint as captain, Dhoni said he was not quite delighted because a place in the finals was still not assured. "We should have sealed it earlier, against Australia on Sunday. Had we won that night, there would have been no question about us making the finals by now," Dhoni said after landing here.

He admitted there were butterflies in the stomach for a while after Irfan Pathan got out. "I was trying to face as many balls as possible, but it was not happening. Wickets falling from the other end is never a good sight and it could have spoilt my effort. That's why I think Ishant Sharma did a great job by blocking those two balls from Lasith Malinga."

Considering the time of the competition this win came in, Dhoni rated it slightly ahead of the other wins under his captaincy. "All the wins are important and memorable… The ones against Pakistan, Twenty20 and the one against Australia in Melbourne. But yes, given the situation in this tournament, it was an important one."

The Yuvraj factor
Needless to say, the most significant gain from the win over Sri Lanka apart from the points was the return to runs of Yuvraj. The player said on Wednesday he was expecting people to be patient because every player goes through a rough patch and that he had spent this time working on a few aspects of his game.

"My strength is driving the ball and playing straight, that's what I did last night. I had been working on this area during the lean period, which comes in the career of every player. I just told myself to be patient and was expecting others to be patient as well. Not getting runs despite hitting the ball well was bad still. I'm glad that I finally got some runs which helped the team at an important time," Yuvraj told HT.

No doubt his skipper was as pleased as him. "It's always good to see a player like him getting some runs. He's an important player for us, not just in the present setup, but in any setup. Scoring runs is his job and I was sure even when he was not getting them that he would come good sooner or later," said Dhoni.

Some grey areas
India have some problem areas which are still to be sorted out. The top order is not getting enough runs and it's not clear how trying out different combinations every now and then is going to help. The opening pair to have put on two 50-plus partnerships in this competition has been disbanded following the decision to leave out Virender Sehwag and the No. 3 slot continues to be a part of the puzzle where the piece is missing.

"Do they keep drawing them out of a barrel," exclaimed someone in the press box on Tuesday after seeing Robin Uthappa walk in at the fall of Sachin Tendulkar. He was the third man tried there in six matches after Gautam Gambhir and Pathan. Nobody talks about these things after a win and it was no different with the Indians on Wednesday. Maybe they will think about this after counting who got how much.

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