Yuvraj Singh has never been to Ireland but he’s confident that it’s where India can set the tone for a successful summer and where he can secure a permanent spot in the batting order.
India play three One-day Internationals (ODIs) against South Africa in Stormont before a taking on England in three Tests and seven ODIs.
“How the tour progresses is very important, so if we can do well against South Africa in Ireland I’m sure we’ll play good cricket,” he said at the end of day three of a four-day conditioning camp at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) here in Bangalore.
“For the last six or seven years I’ve been batting in the middle-order, but it’s been tough finding my place, especially in Tests. It depends where I come to bat. If I come lower down then I have to go for my shots. If I get sent up the order then I can settle in and open up later,” he explained.
“Current form can’t be assessed in one or two series. At the World Cup I was in form but unfortunately we didn’t go far and in Bangladesh I couldn’t get started. In the Afro-Asia Cup I came in lower down, so if I can get a run for a five or six-match series at one spot then you can see how I perform. It’s going to be a tough tour so we have to focus on being mentally and physically fit, but I’m confident of doing well,” he added.
With his left knee still in a brace after he underwent surgery for a ligament tear before the Champions Trophy, Yuvraj said he didn’t feel uncomfortable on the field.
“I’ve been working on it (the knee) three or four times a week, and obviously the brace is a precaution so I have to keep it on until I get properly fit. But when I’m playing a game I go 100% all out,” he revealed.
The focus of the day at the NCA was batting in pairs. Two batsmen went in at a time and had to chase 45 runs in eight overs. Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir failed, losing Uthappa in the process. Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid chased it down with ease and made 53 before Ganguly got out. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma, batting against the spin of Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar, also succeeded as did Yuvraj and Dinesh Karthik.
Sharma, a promising young Mumbai batsman who was included in the 30-member probables list for the 2006 Champions Trophy, used his chance to bat with the seniors. He was impressive against the spinners and hustled to make singles into doubles and once lofted Powar to long on where Sreesanth dropped a sitter. “Keep it up!” yelled a jaded spectator sitting alone in the stands.
Yuvraj wasn’t confident against spin, often lunging forward and playing around his pad. Was it a worry, given that Monty Panesar, in fantastic form, would bowl a lot against India over the summer?
“All of our batsmen play spin well, so I don’t see him as a threat. Obviously he’s doing very well so we have to look out for him,” he expressed.
Gregory King, the physical trainer, and physio John Gloster were overseeing the camp, the last of three conducted ahead of India’s tour of Ireland and England. Venkatesh Prasad, the bowling coach, stood at square leg and took notes for most of the time.
“It’s going well, after just two days. Today we had some match practice which went well for all the batsmen and bowlers,” said Yuvraj. “We didn’t really feel the absence of a coach, as there was a bowling coach and a fielding coach (Robin Singh) and the team is looking really good. Everyone’s quite happy with the coaching camp,” he added.More on:Afro Asia Cup, Bangladesh, India, Ireland, ODIs, Yuvraj Singh
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