When playing cricket is a celebration: Harsha Bhogle
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Ostensibly Saturday's match at Visakhapatnam will be between India and New Zealand. I suspect, though, that twenty-one of the twenty-two players on the field will find themselves largely irrelevant as everyone gets engulfed by the hugely emotional return of Yuvraj Singh to cricket. And though sport is normally played hard, by people unwilling to concede an inch, you can never divorce it from emotion. And I'm sure it will be that way when Yuvraj takes the field for his sheer presence, a tribute to what modern medicine and the human spirit can combine, will stir the feelings like few events have in recent times. It will tug at the heart, it will be that kind of match. New Zealand will seek to get him out first ball but they will be moved too.
It was an unusual selection though for Yuvraj hasn't played a game since chemotherapy ate at his strength but, by all accounts, left his resolve untouched. Ordinarily you would have thought that he needed a couple of games to show if the strength had returned and if he was hitting a ball well enough to keep another player out. It was clearly an emotional selection but also one of solidarity with someone who had played outstandingly for India. I don't think either Australia or, in the present dispensation England, would have picked him as quickly but we are an emotional people and you will hardly find anyone contesting his selection.
But if Yuvraj is indeed fit, and on his way to being the player he was, he changes the balance of the Indian team completely. He did that at the World Cup when he became the all-rounder that India were searching for. By doing that he gave India an extra slow bowling option and allowed a batsman to play at number seven. In T20 cricket he only needs to bowl four overs, or even three or two.