Ahead of India’s first match of the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 against Afghanistan on Wednesday, we look at three men who will be expecting a bit more than some of the others in Sri Lanka.
The player about whom everyone has an opinion now finds himself needing to score runs in Twenty20 cricket to justify his outrageous talent. For long touted as the future of Indian batting, the 25-year-old has been dropped from the ODI team after averaging a dismal 13.66 in 2012 and not considered for the Test squad. Now, after scores of 37 and 56 in the two warm-ups in Sri Lanka, Rohit has made a case for his selection in India’s playing XI and must score runs to keep the selectors interested especially with visits from England, Pakistan and Australia lined up.
For Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Rohit, the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 carries a bit more significance than it does for their team-mates.
Another average run in Sri Lanka could only stamp the tag of Twenty20 specialist.
To make a comeback from cancer is monumental; to make a successful comeback is another challenge. But that is what Yuvraj, 30, will be out to do in Sri Lanka. His international comeback in a Twenty20 against New Zealand last week was a promising affair, as Yuvraj took a catch, bowled two overs and scored 34 off 26 balls. Besides giving him a chance to regain his batting form, the World Twenty20 will also be a further test of his fitness. Success to Yuvraj would make his comeback story even more compelling – if not one of the most spectacular achievements by a sportsperson.
Harbhajan’s recall to India’s Twenty20 squad raised eyebrows. Just what had he done to deserve this? After a year in the wilderness, during which he had turned in a woeful Ranji Trophy season and struggled to pick up wickets in domestic limited-overs cricket and while captaining Mumbai Indians in the IPL, Harbhajan’s name was inked in following a successful stint with Essex in England.
His returns in two warm-up matches in Sri Lanka read: 1 for 17 in four overs against the hosts and 0 for 40 in four overs against Pakistan. Middling figures, but this is a battle-hardened bowler with plenty of experience of the conditions and format. A solid tournament for Harbhajan, India’s most-capped Twenty20 bowler and their second-highest wicket-taker in the format, could pitchfork him back into reckoning for ODIs.