Mumbai, Nov. 2 -- Yuvraj Singh has always been popular with the crowds. On Thursday, when James Anderson's wicket handed him his maiden first-class five-wicket haul, the small crowd at the Brabourne stadium gave the loudest cheer of the match. But unlike in the past, Yuvraj did not play to the galleries but simply turned and walked to the pavilion as the England innings had also ended. Only as he entered the dressing room did he acknowledge his team mates' applause with a gentle bow.
Since Yuvraj's return to cricket after recovering from cancer, he has stopped being the showman. India 'A' coach Lalchand Rajput believes he is a transformed man. "He is a different person on and off the field," he told HT. "Now, his focus is on his game alone."
On Tuesday, Yuvraj struck a fluent fifty and even when he reached the milestone, he only a looked to the heavens before continuing to bat.
During the England innings, he stood at slips. That his fitness still does not allow him to chase the ball was evident. Standing in the slip too is fielding but it remains to be seen if it is enough to answer India skipper MS Dhoni's questions about Yuvraj's fitness.
Yuvraj also bowled 26.5 overs, the most by any bowler in the India 'A' ranks, having bowled just four overs for North Zone against Central in his only other first-class game since his comeback.
On Wednesday, he renewed his friendly confrontation with Kevin Pietersen, who had labelled him a 'pie chucker' but having him caught and bowled.
Yuvraj could have taken a couple of more wickets had 'keeper Wriddhiman Saha held on to the catches of Cook and Patel.
The runs and wickets should see Yuvraj in the Test squad, as he renews his effort to find the success in the longest format that has eluded him so far.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.