January 9, 2008 – Yuvraj might be lucky in his love affairs with Deepika but unlucky in his game after his affairs. The love looks to have intervened in his career, he shall have tough time to be lucky in his future selection. Yuvraj had little leeway from either the Australians or the umpires.
But, the modes of the left-hander’s dismissals in his four Test innings thus far have been very disappointing. He forgot to play his natural game and defended in defective way.
Twice — and both times in the first innings — he has been caught on the crease by the faster bowlers; twice he has looked ill at ease against spin, his old nemesis, failing to spot Brad Hogg’s flipper in the first Test and treating Symonds with undue tentativeness in the second.
In both cases, the sight most characteristic of Yuvraj in his pomp, witnessed during his 169 against Pakistan at Bangalore last December, was missing.
An unbuttoned stroke-player, Yuvraj is best served when a light, nimble step forward (not a stride, mind) counterbalances his elongated back-lift as he sets up.
From here, he either props further in front or pushes onto the back foot depending on his judgment of length.
But, when the right foot fails in this duty, the heaviness of his back-lift weights the back foot, anchoring him in the crease and costing him time.
Both at Melbourne and Sydney, he was on the move rather than in position, falling caught-behind and leg-before respectively.
There’s a lot made of the need for conventional technique, but what matters most is the skill of making runs. In most cases of poor batting, the batsman isn’t watching the ball closely enough, simple as it sounds. The inherent bounce in Australia might make Yuvraj wary of stepping forward; the problem lies in his mind.
A curious pattern of extremes has marked Yuvraj’s Test career. Three resplendent hundreds against Pakistan lie scattered among several stunted works.
It’s to do with looseness in defensive play early in the innings, a problem starting against spin that seemed to have been rectified, but above all, a lack in belief.
Competing against four of India’s finest middle order batsman hasn’t given him the rhythm a lengthy tenure does. He hasn’t pushed hard enough however.
Yuvraj can learn from his counterpart who he shares several similarities with. Symonds too was considered a one-day specialist; he too has had his attitude (off-field) questioned at various stages.
But, given a chance in the Test side after a raft of retirements, he struck a hundred in the last Ashes series and has evolved tremendously as a batsman since. Symonds puts the transformation down to belief.
Australia, of course, can afford to carry a player, giving him a further chance of success.