Dubai: With Yuvraj Singh, India’s giant allrounder in white ball cricket camping in Dubai for sometime and the news of his formal request to come back from retirement breaking a few days back, there has been a buzz ever since - can he be seen in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 which begins in less than a week’s time in the UAE?
The name of Kings XI Punjab, for whom ‘Yuvi’ was the icon player in the first edition of IPL in 2008, was dropped conveniently. Even interesting was a tweet from a senior cricket writer that the southpaw, who has been a much sought-after player in the league at his prime, can be an ideal replacement for Suresh Raina in the Chennai Super Kings outfit to cope with the sluggish wickets in the UAE.
It’s still very much in the realm of speculation, however fascinating it might be. When Indian cricket’s braveheart decided to call it quits from all forms of cricket in the middle of India’s campaign in the 2019 ICC World Cup, it was not difficult to read the sense of hurt in him. Yuvraj had last turned out in the Indian colours in 2017 while it was also not a pleasant sight to see him mostly warm the benches of Mumbai Indians during the IPL last season.
Just when one thought he would be reconciled to the life of a retired international, during which he was allowed to play in the G-T20 league in Canada, there was more than a tinge of regret which often underlined Yuvraj’s statements to the media. While he hardly ever pulled back his punches even during the playing career, Yuvraj criticised the way the then committee of national selectors handled him and then very recently, he tore into the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for failing to manage the exits of Indian cricketing heroes of his generation like Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan - and of course, himself.
The retirement was his own call alright, but fact remains that if Chris Gayle, now 40, or Mahendra Singh Dhoni (39) can rule the roost in the richest T20 franchise league, Yuvraj could certainly weild the willow for another couple of years in the T20 format if he can prove his fitness levels. It’s difficult to fathom what’s going on in his mind, but for now, the aim behind him opting out of retirement is to play in the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for Punjab this season - if there is a domestic season at all.
Speaking to Gulf News, Ness Wadia, co-owner of Kings XI Punjab dismissed any talk of him joining the team: ‘‘There is no truth in this at all. You can only be a part of the IPL if you are a registered player for the league, I don’t think he is...at least for now. I think he wants to be a part of the domestic season for Punjab.’’
It’s the cause of the Punjab cricket which has eventually forced him to change his mind after much dilemma. It was during a training session with his erstwhile state team, where he slogged quite hard with the likes of Young Turks Shubman Gill & Co, that Yuvi discovered to his delight that he hadn’t quite lost his touch.
“I enjoyed spending time with these youngsters, and talking to them about various aspects of the game, I realised that they were able to pick up various things that I was telling them,” Yuvraj said in a recent interview.
“I had to get into the nets to show them a few other elements, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was hitting the ball even though I hadn’t held a bat for a really long time. I also trained for those two months, and then I started to bat in the off-season camp. I made runs in some of the practice matches. Mr Puneet Bali, the secretary of the Punjab Cricket Association, approached me after one of the sessions and asked me if I would reconsider coming out of retirement,” he revealed.
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Still, it was only after much deliberation that Yuvraj changed his mind and shot off a mail to Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president and an ardent backer of Yuvi during his captaincy (who is right now in Dubai), announcing his intention to make a comeback from retirement. When contacted, sources close to Yuvraj confirmed about his appeal but there had been no response so far.
“The motivation is to help Punjab win championships. Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh), myself, we have won tournaments, but we haven’t done it together for Punjab, so that was a big factor in my final call,’’ he said.
Those who are in the know say that there has been no tangible offer from any of the franchises this time.
Fair enough. How about the IPL next year then if he can shine for Punjab, which is not really that far away? We will have to wait and watch...