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Will Yuvraj Singh's 177 bring him back to national reckoning?

India Today logo India Today 15-10-2016

Champion, fighter, inspirational - these are some of the terms that Yuvraj Singh is associated with over the years. Well, there's a reason behind it.

The Punjab southpaw is a champion in his own right, fought and defeated cancer, and inspired a whole generation of youngsters by making a comeback to international cricket after his bout with the deadly disease.

There are not many better sights on the cricket field than watching an on-song Yuvraj, one of the cleanest hitters of the ball, effortlessly and brutally taking the life out of the bowlers. Following his debut against New Zealand at Mohali in 2003, he went on to become a vital cog of the Indian limited-overs team which dominated the world over.

Yuvraj Singh's ability to score at will against any opposition attack soon made him one of the most feared batsmen in limited-overs format. It didn't take him too long to become the poster boy of Indian cricket.

Yuvraj became the toast of the nation after his stellar performances in India's title-winning campaigns in the 2007 ICC World T20, where he famously hit England's Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over, and in 2011 World Cup, where he was adjudged the Man of the Series. With 326 runs and 15 wickets in the mega tournament, he reached the peak of his career.

However, life suddenly took a devastating turn for then 30-year-old when he was diagnosed with germ cell cancer soon in 2012. But true to his fighting nature, Yuvraj successfully defeated caner after receiving a 10-week treatment, which included three cycles of chemotherapy in Boston in April, 2012.

Photos: Know your cricketer — Yuvraj Singh

Know your cricketer: Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj made an emotional return to international cricket in September, 2012 in a T20 match against New Zealand in Chennai, scoring 34 off 26 balls. He then played in the subsequent World T20 in Sri Lanka the same year. But inconsistent form and fitness related issues led to his ouster and subsequently, he disappeared from the team's scheme of things.

In January 2016, Yuvraj made yet another international comeback in the World T20 held in India but an ankle injury cut short his stint, casting a shadow over his international career.

However, right when the critics were ruling out Yuvraj's chances of making another comeback to the Indian team, he has once again showed that it might not yet be the end of the road for him.

Playing in the ongoing Ranji Trophy, Yuvraj, who is captaining Punjab, hammered Madhya Pradesh into submission with a superb unbeaten knock of 164 on Day 1 in Lahli on Thursday. He eventually fell for 177 on the second day. It was Yuvraj's fifty-plus score in 14 first-class and he converted it into a century.

Yuvraj showed that he is still a force to reckon with after scoring his 25th first-class hundred, which was studded with 24 boundaries. His century was definitely the highlight among all the matches of the Ranji Trophy that are being held across the country.

And with another limited-overs specialist Suresh Raina missing out on the first ODI against New Zealand in Dharamsala on Sunday due to a bout of viral fever, Yuvraj's timely ton can be a knock on selectors' door, especially if Raina fails to recover before the second match in Delhi on October 20.

Yuvraj, who last played an ODI for India in 2013, can be a deadly weapon in India's arsenal at home conditions. The 34-year-old is also a handy bowling option with his left-arm spin.

With India eyeing to better their recent ODI record (they have lost against Bangladesh, South Africa and Australia after 2015 World Cup), the selectors might want to try Yuvraj out before it gets too late for the "Warrior Prince" of Indian cricket.

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