We know Surinder Amarnath was compelled to become a left-hander by his father, Lala Amarnath, because of the need of the times. Surinder adapted and delivered with a century on Test debut.
Can one train to become an all-rounder? “No,” insists former India leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani. “You have to be a natural. Someone like Kapil Dev. Yuvraj Singh is one.”
Yuvraj is part of a specific plan as India looks to maintain its good international record. The goal is the Champions Trophy and Yuvraj, along with Ashish Nehra, is expected to play an important role.
“I had always backed myself and I feel good about my batting this season. There have been ups and downs but the focus has been high this time,” said Yuvraj.
His role, Yuvraj insisted, remained the same as in the 2011 World Cup which saw him win the Player of the Series award. “I was supposed to bolster the middle-order and play the finishing game. It is the same even now. Cricket has become faster because the rules have changed in the last five years but my job would still be to chase the targets which have become bigger than they were in 2011 when we won the Cup.”
There is another common factor to Yuvraj’s expected contribution — Narendra Hirwani. In 2011, Hirwani had trained him for the tournament. Hirwani, who finished his 21-year First Class career with an astonishing 723 wickets, is not one to speak about his contributions. He makes an exception here.
Yuvraj confessed to Hirwani that, when batting, his rhythm would get disturbed by the slower one. “So, I asked him to vary the speed to inflict that agony on the batsmen. He did that splendidly,” said Hirwani.
The former India leg-spinner worked on Yuvraj’s confidence and bowling during the last Duleep Trophy at Greater Noida. The two again spent a week at the National Cricket Academy recently.
“I told him to be upright when bowling and look to bowl in the right place. It is the most important thing. Bowling in the right place comes from hard training. I also told him to approach the game with a simple mindset.
“You have to enjoy your bowling. I am glad he showed improvement quickly. I always look to work on the bowler without tampering with his action and Yuvi has taken the lessons well.”
Yuvraj imbibed a priceless bit of advice from Hirwani. “He asked me to back myself as a bowler. Being called a part-time bowler helps me. I feel under pressure if I am referred to as the main bowler. Everyone has his own style of bowling. I am more mature in my approach now and want to use my experience to serve the team better,” said the 35-year-old Yuvraj.
The left-hander was excited at returning to the main fold. “I have a role to play in the middle-order with Mahi (MS Dhoni). I have loved batting with him. We bring experience to the middle-order and hope to relive the 2011 World Cup during this season,” Yuvraj concluded.