No Indian Cricket player has been ever subjected to kind of varied reactions/emotions that Sourav Ganguly faced. He was hated one moment and loved the very next. People and experts loved to hate him. His arrogance, his sense of entitlement of being King of Indian Cricket, his clumsy fielding and running, all of it made people to hate him but all his flaws were forgotten when he played his exquisite shots through the off-side, his captaincy, his never say die attitude while captaining India was loved by every cricket lover in India.
His biggest contribution was that he made Indian Team “bunch of fighters”. They started to see opponent in the eyes and started to play fearless cricket. He backed players who he thought would turn into match winners and brought in players like Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Sehwag, Zaheer Khan in team India and they turned out to be match winners in coming years. Under his captaincy a road-map was created to make India winners at overseas tests which resulted in India being No. 1 test team under Dhoni. He created the solid foundation which was responsible for India’s success in first decade of new millennium.
Go back to the T20 World Cup in 2007, a new look Team India under a new captain in MS Dhoni was there to compete. No one gave them a chance, not even Indian commentator like Ravi Shastri. Still, India ended the tournament as the champions of the inaugural World T20 Championship and a man named Yuvraj Singh played some scintillating knocks to ensure that India wins the trophy.
Who can forget those 6 sixes in an over against Stuart Broad and 70 runs in 30 balls in the semifinal against the Aussies?
Move ahead a few years to 2011. Yuvraj was woefully out of form before ODI World Cup, but Dhoni believed in Yuvraj ‘The Match Winner’. Yuvraj proved the experts, most of them were advocating for him to be dropped, wrong: with 362 runs and 15 wickets, he was named as the player of the tournament of 2011 ODI World Cup.
So, the match winning capability of Yuvraj is never in doubt; neither is his ability to perform in big matches (remember the 2002 NatWest final). He can change any match on its head with his bowling, batting or fielding. But post T20 World Cup in 2014, Yuvraj never represented India. Questions were raised on his fitness level, his diminishing ability to run fast between the wickets, lapse of concentration while batting, and also his below-standard fielding.
Things seem to be changing now for Yuvraj. His last few innings in the domestic cricket gives one the feeling of young Yuvraj who is much fitter and hungry for success. He is among the top scorers with three consecutive centuries on different kind of tracks. He looks sharp in field too.
With Ravindra Jadeja being injured and with the kind of form Yuvraj is in, he deserves a place in the World Cup team. He would provide an option of a bowling all-rounder in absence of Jadeja. He is more than a handy bowler; his wicket-taking knack would help India in the middle overs. Big Australian grounds would also help his slow bowling, as chances of batsmen being caught at boundary would be high. He, along with Raina, can fill in quota of 5th bowler, which would give India an option to play with an extra batsman on flat tracks. Dhawan is also woefully out of form, which may force Dhoni to open with Rahane. In such a case, Yuvraj can even fit in the number 4/5/6 slot that is still not cemented by any other player. Stroke-maker like Yuvraj would be an asset especially while chasing a target. With three match-winners like Raina, Yuvraj and Dhoni in the middle order, Indian team would be much stronger. His previous experience of playing in Australia and his big match experiences would also help India. He would also add value to already sharp fielding of India. His catching & fielding ability is at par with any young fielder of team India. He is just 33 years of age and few years of cricket is left in him. He is not too old to be kept out of the team India on pretext of giving chance to youngsters.
With kind of performances Yuvraj has given for the team in the past and with kind of form he is in, a fit-again Yuvraj deserves this chance. Selectors should keep all this in mind before they select team for World Cup on 6th January. Dhoni kept his faith in Yuvraj before World Cup in 2011; he should do same this time too. But how much say Dhoni has over the selectors now is another question.
Whatever be the case, Yuvraj, given his form and his match-winning ability, deserves to be picked.