The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Relief, as the worst is coming to an end
- Vadodara ODI against WEST Indies may see top gun Yuvraj Singh’s comeback

Calcutta: The West Indies’ arrival in Nagpur on Friday morning altered Team India’s practice schedule. Instead of continuing with afternoon sessions, as part of the build-up for Sunday’s first ODI, Rahul Dravid and Co. were given an earlier slot.

That worked to Yuvraj Singh’s benefit as he had another round of nets before boarding IndiGo’s evening service from there to here.

He’s preparing for a comeback (after the nasty knee injury on October 28) and, so, such sessions are a boon.

In fact, the more the better.

“I’m feeling just fine… It was important to be with the team and see if I could do the same things… One worries after being forced out of the game through injury… I’ve come away satisfied,” Yuvraj told The Telegraph during the 100-minute flight.

Yet, understandably, the gifted southpaw is keeping fingers crossed.

Munching cashewnuts and having the odd sip of a low calorie beverage, he added: “It’s a relief that this phase of poor health (starting with ear surgery earlier in the season) is coming to an end… I’ve gone through a tough period…

“Now, I’m looking to play the Twenty20 tournament (in Calcutta) with high intensity… If we (Indian Airlines) win tomorrow, then I get two matches…”

The injury, while playing officially-sanctioned kho-kho, couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Indeed, had Yuvraj been in South Africa, the vice-captaincy would almost surely have gone to him and not V.V.S.Laxman once the selectors decided to relieve Virender Sehwag of that responsibility.

Now, it rests on senior-most pro Sachin Tendulkar’s shoulders.

Yuvraj didn’t comment on the vice-captaincy bit (he has, by the way, held that post in a stand-in capacity), but did say “nothing in my life has ever come easy…”

A deputy general manager with the one-time biggest domestic carrier, he’s back in the city he last played in 14 months ago.

That appearance was in a one-dayer against South Africa.

Yuvraj top-scored with 53 (“I got out to a bad shot, playing across to Johan Botha”), but India still lost.

Asked if the Twenty20 format is eventually going to upstage the other forms, he replied: “It’s pure entertainment, nothing more… It’s for the batters only…”

Incidentally, Yuvraj’s first exposure to Twenty20 action was in England while turning out for Yorkshire.

Not that runs over the next couple of days will count for anything, but his “intensity” may help Team India physio John Gloster put a date to his comeback.

A decision on whether Yuvraj catches up with the team in Cuttack (before the second ODI, on January 24) is expected on Sunday.

That’s also the concluding day of the Twenty20 tournament.

If all goes well, Yuvraj’s comeback could be in the fourth and final ODI, in Vadodara, on January 31.

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