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Let's talk about Yuvi, baby

by Gaurav Sethi

Yuvi as 12th Man

My first reaction to Yuvi’s “I wondered if I wanted to play anymore” was, yeah, here’s some solid material for a cartoon. Yuvi unlike the earnest Gambhir or Raina is easy on the laughs, to laugh with, laugh at – he puts himself out there – there you go, another joke in the making, but that’s what has a lotta us sucked into the big boy’s aura.

You can condescend his form, fitness, injuries, test readiness, spin-play, and I will put him down as a big risk in the World Cup XI – just as he can be a one-man win machine, he can undo a match on his own.

Batting at 4, coming in early, if Yuvi doesn’t take on the counter, he can be sucked into the heaviness around – play like a true tailender, and if it’s not rocking in the 90s, his strike rate dips to Akaash Chopra test levels. His play though, is nowhere that assured, and any slow man can knock him over fast. What will test Yuvi, after early wickets is whether he has a Plan B+, in addition to the counter – somewhere between Yuvi gone mad and A Chopra in his shell. Even Y Pathan? has answers to that nowadays, how hard can it be.

Then there’s Yuvi’s slow bowling. The 5th bowler, India’s only left hand spin option. Even if the other bowling options like Yusuf, Raina, Sehwag come into play, Yuvi’s place in the eleven, on current batting form, is based on an assumption that he will bowl more than 5 overs.

Then there’s the fitness, the fielding, not “one of India’s better fielders” anymore. Going by Yuvi’s interview, he’s somewhat leaner now, though the quizzical look is still intact.

Yuvi’s cricket, as his persona, and this interview, is based on his usual yaari-walli-honesty. He will speak about Mommy, Papa in interviews. He will seat you in his home, and talk to you about the cobwebs in his mind. There is none of the unapproachable mystique of SRT. Yuvi is an open book, a dog eared one at that, likable, and you want him in the team even if he’s older. The bookshelf isn’t quite complete without him.

You hope the story will be just as punchy as it was, when you read it first. Therein lies the quandary that will unfold this world cup, whether Yuvi can endure as a classic, or, just one helluva dude cricketer, like Flintoff, who you hope, will put in one more act of the greatest show on earth.

Celebs do that all the time, and even though Yuvi is more celeb than cricketer now, he  is still that rare breed of  khunnas cricketer – the team must figure when to play him. What teams, which players start him up. For starters, sitting out against Bangladesh could be needle enough to get some of that old bite back. And of course, you will want to play him against England.

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