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Yuvraj fails to thunder Down Under

Yuvraj fails to thunder Down Under

Yuvraj's elusive form has got India thinking.

New Delhi: “I would pay to watch him play," has been former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga’s repeated call after Yuvraj Singh’s pyrotechnics last year secured India’s Twenty20 World Championship title. A couple of months on, however, Ranatunga might want to reconsider.

Into their last leg of their tour Down Under, India are stuck with an age-old dilemma, of how Yuvraj Singh’s form deserts him and his team as often as Sachin Tendulkar scores a century and gets out in the 90s.

In his eighth year as an international cricketer, Yuvraj has often found it hard to come to grips with his exclusion from the Test side, attributed to preference of senior members or his own inconsistency. Wonder how would he assess his own situation in the ODI side right now, given his form, and perhaps fitness, of late.

Yuvraj has averaged a shade over four in the two Tests he played in the high-voltage Test series against the Aussies, and has been on the wrong side of that very figure in three hits in the shorter version Down Under. But it’s not the numbers that hurt most, but the startling fact someone who was in the form of his life only a couple of months ago, landed in Australia and has struggled ever since.

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His freak injury while playing football at Perth may have restricted his movements thereafter, but Yuvraj’s vulnerability to spin bowling have been glaring, and so has been his awkwardness against the faster bowlers. All of this, coming after a phenomenal hundred against Pakistan, albeit at home conditions, couldn’t keep him out of the Test side any longer.

To consider the Boxing Day Test as the trigger of his form slump wouldn’t be justified, but his twin dismissals in the ill-fated Sydney Test when everything else came to light, were the signals.

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Yuvraj, an accomplished player of fast bowling, was uncorked by Brett Lee first with a bunch of bouncers, and then removed with a fuller length delivery that trapped him in his crease. By the second innings though, the batsman was completely out of sorts. He was found wanting by off-spinner Andrew Symonds, who ended his three-ball stay in the middle for a duck, with the batsman committing himself on neither foot.

In his three outings with the bat so far in the CB Series, Yuvraj has been out twice in identical fashion, going for an expansive drive, once caught at slip and once at short cover, while the third, on Tuesday, was an attempt to grind out a yorker.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni understandably defended his deputy after his dismissal on Tuesday off Lasith Malinga with only eight balls remaining in the innings. But the 26-year-old seems plagued by a deeper trouble, which has also hampered his fielding.

The Commonwealth Bank Series is pretty evenly poised after five matches. Even experts have called for Yuvraj be given space to sort himself out in his mind. Might just be the right time to test the bench strength with the likes of Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary and Dinesh Karthik waiting in the wings.

first published:February 13, 2008, 12:38 IST