The in-betweeners

Squeezed between two generations of Indian cricket is the one that missed out

Yuvraj Singh was born in 1981. So were his two other senior teammates in the ODI squad, M.S. Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir. But somehow Yuvraj has seen more of life. Debuting as a teen prodigy, he has donned the India blues more often than the two other 31-year-olds in the top hierarchy. He has aged from being a rookie who made old hands in the batting line-up insecure to a senior who is under constant scrutiny. Once the baby of Sourav Ganguly's exciting team of 2000, he now is the only one in Dhoni's struggling bunch who got his big break in the last century.

So if he complains of a disconnect, it's understandable. With Sachin Tendulkar retiring, Virender Sehwag getting dropped, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan fighting their own comeback battles on the domestic circuit, Yuvraj wouldn't have anyone in the team bus to share old jokes.

Of late, the attention has been focused on bidding goodbye to batting legends now in their late-30s and much energy wasted in speculating on the leadership qualities of certain 20-somethings. Those who have gone unattended in this season of intrigue are the fast fading "in-betweeners". When an era ends, it brings with it curtain calls and painful goodbyes. But this time of change in Indian cricket has seen another melancholy tale silently unfolding. It's about the shrinking ambitions of a bunch of senior cricketers who aren't yet the "step away from retirement" veterans. Squeezed between two generations is a "middle class" that seems to have missed out.

These are highly talented men who, a decade ago, broke into Indian cricket's Galactico. It was a dream internship with the men who knew it all. To their credit, in the crowd of decorated men, they regularly earned their stripes. They acquired their own identity and loyal fans. They added new dimension to the already multifaceted unit.

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