Harbhajan Singh has cut out the jump from his run-up while Yuvraj Singh’s trigger movement now is not as pronounced as it was earlier. Siddhartha Sharma takes a close look at the two out-of-favour Punjab cricketers who are using their time on the domestic circuit, looking to reinvent themselves and ressurect their careers.
BIG STEP, SMALLER STRIDE
It’s late evening. The Punjab-Jammu and Kashmir Vijay Hazare game has just ended. The Jamia Millia Islamia University ground’s stands have gone from sparsely-occupied to nearly-deserted. A few fans do hang around to pay respects to a couple of India stars in Punjab colours. The dressing room too has an end-of-the-day feel to it. Tired fingers are busy on fancy phones while exhausted bodies are sprawled over easy chairs. That’s when Yuvraj Singh’s purposeful walk to the central square, in the company of a few spinners, disturbs the unhurried atmosphere.
Dropped from the India one-day side, Yuvraj missed the tour to New Zealand and the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. But in about a week’s time, the left-hander will be wearing the India colours once again as part of the World T20 squad in Bangladesh. About seven years back, in the inaugural edition of the event, he built a reputation for himself. Even today they use him, and Stuart Broad’s 36-run over, not to forget the six sixes, to sell the diet World Cup.
The ODI team, minus Yuvraj, hasn’t been in the best of form and the blame partly rests with the young middle-order. Yuvraj is surely aware about the openings available and wants to be at his best. And since this could probably be the 32 year-old’s last chance to extend his international career, he wants to iron out all his flaws.
At Jamia, Yuvraj is putting in the extra hours and going the extra mile to overcome a batting problem that has been bothering him of late. Far too often, he’s been trapped in front of the wicket by the slow bowlers with his front-foot getting in the line of the delivery. As a strict coach (like his father Yograj) would say, ‘what his bat should be doing, his pad is doing.’
Since the time he played the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy in Indore last September, Yuvraj has committed this fatal flaw four times. Interestingly, Delhi’s Rajat Bhatia has been his conqueror on three of those occasions during the domestic season. Medium pacer Bhatia foxed him at the Challenger Trophy first and later got him twice in the Ranji Trophy games. According to Punjab coach Bhupinder Singh Sr., Yuvraj has been working extra-time to eliminate this weakness.
“Having played at the highest level, Yuvraj knows how to analyse his batting. I remember when he joined the team a day before the Delhi game, he said that he was getting hit on the pads quite often. So he continued…