NEW DELHI (AP) — Yuvraj Singh is set to appear for India on Saturday for the first time since fighting off cancer. However, the comeback by one of cricket's best limited-overs players could be delayed by another obstacle over which he has no control — rain.
The southern Indian city of Visakhapatnam, host of the first of two Twenty20s against New Zealand, has been inundated by torrential rain for the past week.
Yuvraj tweeted: "Just landed in lovely Vizag (Visakhapatnam)!! Beautiful scenic view before landing! Hope it doesn't rain tom(orrow) and day after! cause I just can't wait any more."
The 30-year-old Yuvraj has been slogging away at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore in preparation for his return to international cricket within six months of undergoing three cycles of chemotherapy in the United States for a rare germ cell cancer near his lungs.
Millions of fans, warmed by his starring role in India's World Cup triumph at home last year, prayed for his recovery as the Indian media followed his progress.
It was no surprise then that his selection for India, which some thought was a sentimental decision and not based on cricket form, overshadowed other news ahead of New Zealand's tour of India.
Yuvraj, who has played 37 tests, 274 one-day internationals and 23 Twenty20s, last figured in an international series during home tests against West Indies last November. By then he was already ill.
In fact, it was during the World Cup in March-April 2011 that he realized something was wrong with him, even as he scored 362 runs and took 15 wickets to help India win the championship.
He could be seen coughing time and again amid inspiring performances, and he confirmed later that they were the first signs of the grave illness.
"I couldn't come to terms with it initially," Yuvraj said in an interview published in Friday's The Times of India. "I did not accept it and still played and ran. But after the final diagnosis, I had no choice but to face it and fight back."
He underwent tests before it was confirmed that the 'golf-ball sized' tumor just outside his lungs was malignant and needed immediate attention.
"The battle (against cancer) has made me stronger," he said. "I'm not going to stress about my performance anymore. I don't know how I'll play but I'll give my 100 percent to it."
The short series with New Zealand gives Yuvraj a chance to build confidence for this month's World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, a competition in which he signed himself among the greats of limited-overs cricket by striking six sixes in an over off England pace bowler Stuart Broad in the inaugural edition at South Africa in 2007.
"The two matches against New Zealand will give us an idea of how much he has recovered," former India captain Sourav Ganguly said at a promotional event for the World Twenty20 in New Delhi. "It'd be wrong if I say I'm not worried about his health. However, I'm really happy that he has come back from a tough phase. I'm sure he must be thrilled too."
The second Twenty20 against New Zealand is scheduled for Tuesday, while the World Twenty20 will be in Sri Lanka from Sept. 18 to Oct. 7.