Former chief selector Sandeep Patil has called Yuvraj Singh "God's gift" to Indian cricket and stated that the southpaw’s form and fitness will be key for his participation in the 2019 World Cup. The left-handed batsman now finds himself out of the national selection frame due to his poor fitness.
Yuvraj was picked for the limited-overs series against England last year after the selectors were convinced of his form and fitness during the Ranji Trophy. The vote of confidence was cast after Yuvraj stacked up 672 runs in five games, including scores of 260 and 177. However, despite scoring 372 runs at an average of 41.33 with a strike-rate of 98.67 in his last 10 innings, he found himself out of the team for the Sri Lanka and the upcoming Australia series. Despite that, Patil believes that the southpaw can still be picked in the team if he can raise his fitness level.
"Yuvraj was like a God's gift, I have been his ardent fan and I will remain an ardent fan of Yuvraj. But he has to put runs on the board and he has to prove his fitness."
Before the recently concluded limited-overs series against Sri Lanka, there were arguments that Dhoni's finishing abilities were on the wane and that he wasn't rotating the strike as well as he used to do in the years gone by. However, the former Indian skipper made a roaring comeback on Lankan soil scoring 162 runs at a strike-rate of 82.23. He also grabbed eyeballs with his quick reflexes behind the wicket, becoming the first wicket-keeper in the ODI history to effect 100 stumpings. Patil praised the former Indian skipper as well and termed him “a special player”.
"It will be looked after by the professionals, who are working with the Indian team, so it will be wrong on my part to say what is going to happen with Dhoni, Yuvraj. But they are special cricketers, I wish I had even five percent of what they (kind of talent) have," the 61-year-old told PTI.
Patil was the head of the selection committee from 2012 to 2016, and oversaw a period of transition in Indian cricket with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman retiring from international cricket.
"We had a very difficult task of replacing players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and get these youngsters. Somewhere, in my mind, I am very happy that the bold decisions which we took are giving tremendous results."
The former Indian batsman also acknowledged that the Indian cricket team’s recent dominance in world cricket was great.
"Indian team is at the top now, they are in top form, they are in top fitness, the combination, everything is going right. But, if you look at the history of cricket, about every 10 years things changed.
"It was West Indies who ruled the 1950s and 60s, then it was Australia, then it was Pakistan, South Africa and now India is ruling so it would be very wrong of me to say that."
"It's cricket, it's a funny game, you have to go out there, start afresh. Every day is fresh, every over is fresh, every ball is fresh and to repeat that is not easy. India is playing great cricket," he concluded.
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