If he takes the field on Saturday for the first Twenty20 against New Zealand, Yuvraj Singh will be the cynosure of all eyes. Saturday could be the first time the 30-year-old features in an international match since November 2011 after winning his battle against a rare germ cell cancer. His last international match was a Test against West Indies un Kolkata.
In late 2011, it was reported that Yuvraj had a non-malignant tumour in the lungs. The sad news startled everyone in the cricket fraternity. It was revealed that during the 2011 World Cup, in which Yuvraj was adjudged Player of the Tournament, he had bouts of coughing and vomiting, but he ignored those symptoms by taking pain-killers to keep himself going.
But his illness turned out to be malignant, and he received widespread support and warm wishes from all quarters. Skipper MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar expressed their grief at the news and hailed him as a fighter who would make a resounding comeback. Yuvraj went through chemotherapy treatment in the US while fans in India prayed for his speedy recovery. Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh visited him in the US to lift his spirits. His treatment went off well. Yuvraj returned home to a rousing welcome, and after three to four months of recuperation period, he started training at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.
The T20 against NZ on Saturday will be Yuvraj's first international match since November 2011 after winning his battle against cancer.
Yuvraj kept his fans in the loop about his recovery on Twitter and expressed a strong desire to play the ICC World Twenty20 in September 2012. The selectors showed faith and selected him for the Twenty20 series against New Zealand as well as for the World Twenty20. His inclusion in the Indian squad evoked enormous mirth and elation.
While Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj's staunchest supporter, showed "concern" and said that his inclusion worries him, Sanjay Manjrekar termed it as an "emotional" decision on part of the selectors. Yuvraj's team-mates Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli welcomed the decision whole-heartedly and stated that Yuvraj's presence in the team will boost India's fortunes.
But while Yuvraj's indomitable spirit is undeniable and the whole of India looks forward to his return, silent prayers will be read for his risk-free comeback less than six months after recovering from a potentially life-threatening disease.