Mumbai: Off to a good start in Twenty20s after the "shattering" Test debacle, India batsman Yuvraj Singh said he was confident that the team would carry the momentum not only into the second and final tie against England here Saturday but also into the upcoming series against arch-foes Pakistan.
"In Twenty20s and ODIs, we have done well against them Hopefully, we can carry the momentum, particularly with the important series against Pakistan coming up," said Yuvraj after India's five-wicket win over England in Pune last night. The all-rounder played a key role, taking 3 for 19 to half England's progress in batting and then smashed 38 in 21 balls with three sixes and two fours to help India overhaul the visitors' score of 157 for 6 with five wickets to spare.
India will take on Pakistan in a two-match T20 series commencing at Bangalore on December 25. The second game of that series is scheduled at Ahmedabad on December 28. This would be followed by a three-match ODI series against the neighbours from December 30 this year to January 6, 2013 after which India would engage England in a best-of-five ODI series from January 11 to 27.
Yuvraj said he was confident that the team would carry the momentum forward to the upcoming series against Pakistan.
"Losing 4-0 (in Test series in England last year) and 2-1 (recently in the four-match Test series at home) was quite shattering. England played better cricket but we beat them 5-0 in the one-dayers (last year)," said Yuvraj who was part of the Test squad that got beaten by England. Yuvraj said the younger lot of players improved the fielding of the team. "It's important to win the first game and get a good start. If we lose we are again trying to win back.
With youngsters coming in the fielding is much better and this win also gives momentum and more confidence for the rest of the series and Pakistan," he added. Yuvraj, who has been unable to replicate his superb show in T20s and ODIs at the Test level, said the shortest form of the game offered him a chance to play freely. "When T20 comes I play a bit openly. I enjoyed my batting and my bowling was effective and contributed to the team." The left-handed player, who resumed his cricket career after undergoing treatment for cancer, said the spinners, including himself, had applied the brakes in time to halt England's flying start in the first game in Pune.
"When the openers start hitting it's always a worry. May be we could have chased 180190 but our spinners did a good job I also bowled well and the 2-3 wickets broke the momentum," Yuvraj said. He was as flummoxed as many how his part-time left arm spin is so effective, but gave a clue saying he slowed down the pace of his bowling to reap rich rewards last night. "Even I am not sure why I take so many wickets. I do my best. I was bowling faster initially and it was easier for the batsmen so I slowed it down a bit."
Yuvraj, who returned after recovering from a rare germ cell cancer, said he is happy to play for the country again whatever be the form of the game. "I need to look forward in life. I am happy to be alive and proud to be playing for India again whether it is T20 or ODI or Test," he said. Asked about his fitness, Yuvraj said he was getting close to what he was before the disease was diagnosed.
"One year back I was in the hospital. I can't compare it at all but I have to work harder and more hours to be where I was. I have to also get the confidence of winning for India," he said. Yuvraj felt the best way forward for India was to include more youngsters in the squad. "Youngsters coming in is good for the team. We have (Parvinder) Awana and Bhuvneshwar Kumar who have done well. (Suresh) Raina, (Virat) Kohli and Rohit (Sharma) have been part of the Indian team and I look like a veteran. We have been giving opportunities to youngsters and that is the way to go," he said.