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World Twenty20: How Yuvraj and Raina can make a difference


Cricketnext Staff
Mar 10, 2014 at 02:16pm IST

Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina watched the Asia Cup as outsiders, hopefully realising how crucial a role their return to form could play in bringing Team India out of the hole it has slipped into. And the duo will have a chance to do that in a week's time, thanks to the World Twenty20 rope thrown by the selectors.

The abandoned third ODI on the tour of South Africa was Yuvraj's last international game, and Suresh Raina lost favour during the ODIs in New Zealand. But Sandeep Patil & Co. bank on their experience for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.

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The bigger picture though is 'India'. Will these two be the balm for an Indian team that has beaten just Bangladesh and Afghanistan so far this year and ended tours of South Africa and New Zealand winless? The answer could be yes, but only runs from their bat will eliminate the 'could be' from that statement.

World Twenty20: How Yuvraj and Raina can make a difference

Yuvraj and Raina watched the Asia Cup as outsiders, hopefully realising how crucial their return to form could be in ending Team India's poor run.

Of late, India has missed that stability in the middle order that the failure of Yuvraj and Raina has led to. Once Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni failed, the team started searching for runs than scoring them. Ajinkya Rahane has lived up to that responsibility to some extent, and if Yuvraj and Raina can make their chance count, there won't be much Dhoni will have to worry about in Bangladesh.

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It's never been a question of ruling the two southpaws out. They are firmly in the preferred pool of players for India's World Cup defence in 2015, but consistent failures led to selectors biting the bullet and drop them. Hopefully, the duo took it as a 'break' and not a psychological blow that the word 'drop' can inflict.

Raina has just one fifty-plus score in his previous 24 innings and Yuvraj was all at sea against Mitchell Johnson's pace in the ODI series against Australia at home last year. But the good news is the two men realise there are wrinkles in their game that need to be ironed out.

Reports from the ongoing Vijay Hazare trophy suggest Yuvraj looks subtly different on the crease having cut down on his customary trigger movement when the bowler is in his delivery stride. He is more still now until the ball has left the bowler's hand. More importantly, the footwork looks more flexible.

"From the day he started playing for India, he has been a match-winner and I am sure it will continue to be that way till he plays competitive cricket. He's gone through a lot in recent times but there's still a lot of cricket left in him," former India stumper and selector Kiran More told a leading newspaper.

Following his fight with cancer, Yuvraj has made a concerted effort to stay in sync with the growing demands of international cricket. The 32-year-old even travelled to France last year get back in shape. But all that is yet to convert into runs off the bat, consistently.

Meanwhile, Raina turned to West Bengal in search of coaching tips, and nailed his tent at Kolkata seeking tips from Sourav Ganguly, who knows more than a thing or two about making comebacks.

"When you are down and out, that's when you realise who is ready to help you, who is your friend and who can be a good guide. Sourav Ganguly was one such man," Raina told a news channel.

"I spoke to him and he instantly was eager to help me. We spoke a lot, and he told me that I needed to work hard on my footwork and on my mind. He is a good coach of batting and motivated me a lot when I was mentally down.

"Our batting style also is very similar and we spoke about the short ball, footwork and making a comeback. I got a lot of positive vibes from dada [Ganguly]. He told me a lot about trusting my own ability, and spoke about minor things that I had overlooked for some time," the middle-order batsman said.

Some may call Yuvraj and Raina's inclusion in the World Twenty20 squad a lifeline for them, but looking at the way Team India's graph is plummeting, it won't be wrong to call their inclusion a lifeline for India as well.

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