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Yuvraj Singh’s selection and what it means for India

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Yuvraj_Singh_cricket_India.jpgMuch has already been spoken about Yuvraj Singh’s return to the ODI fold. After playing his last ODI in 2013, Yuvraj will probably be representing the men in blue in the ODI series against England. Yuvraj is by far the most senior player in the side, having made his debut way back in 2000 in the erstwhile ICC Knockout Championship. Stylish, flamboyant, fearless, expressive are all the adjectives synonymous to Yuvraj’s illustrious career for he is credited to have won the World T20 and the World Cup for India.

Making a comeback at 35 is not difficult, and no one would be more aware of this fact than Yuvraj himself. India too are undergoing a transition, still unable to zero in on their best ODI XI after the 2015 WC semis. India has tried 34 different players in the last two years and have only won 1 ODI series apart from the series wins against Zimbabwe since 2015. This will be a testing time for Yuvraj in particular as he finds himself in the thick of things once again.

 

The Indian top-order is probably the only thing that works in favour of the ODI setup. Rohit Sharma (injured for this series) has been quite prolific over the last 3-4 years ever since he has been elevated to the opener’s slot. Shikhar Dhawan has been hot and cold lately and with KL Rahul growing in stature, there’s great competition for the openers slot between these two. At Number 3, none other that Virat Kohli, who is in a league of his own, is India’s best batsman. Post number 3 though, arises the headache for the Indian selectors and team management alike.

MS Dhoni, who recently stepped down from captaincy will probably look to get back to become the run machine he previously was and what better than coming in at 4, his preferred batting position now that captaincy is not his headache. With Yuvraj’s inclusion though, it will be interesting to see where Dhoni bats. Given that both these guys love to hit the ball out of the park but have lacked lately the ability to rotate the strike consistently. Dhoni was found guilty of consuming too many balls and failing to rotate the strike before giving his wicket away in the recently concluded series against New Zealand. Yuvraj too in the World T20 lacked the ability to go big at crucial times and let the asking rate creep up.

With these two wanting to find form, lot rests on the shoulders of young Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav who are still in early days of their international cricket and given the likelihood of India wanting to play 5 bowlers, it will be difficult to see both of them play together unless Yuvraj is dropped.

Yuvraj’s bowling too has taken a dip ever since the new rules were introduced allowing only 4 fielders between overs 10 and 40. This is something he hasn’t worked around yet and hence found himself out of favour for a long time.

 

The selection of Yuvraj does raise a few eye-brows and even though there are delighted fans around the country, it might be too early to make a head or tail of this yet. It will be important how Yuvraj Singh fits in the plans of the new ODI captain Virat Kohli. This ODI series is the only series India play before the ICC Champions Trophy and by picking Yuvraj over the likes of Rayudu, who to his credit has not disappointed whenever given the opportunity, averages 50.23 in 34 ODIs he’s played. And yet finds himself on the fringes.

Yuvraj is 35 and come 2019, it will be highly unlikely that he will be on the flight to England for the World Cup. Most teams are looking towards building their teams for the 2019 World Cup, the decision to pick Yuvraj might be one step forward two steps back. He is surely not close to his peak and as India don’t play another ODI after the England series until the Champions Trophy, this series might be where Yuvraj seals his place in the side once again or probably be his one last hurrah and the management should really look at bringing more youngsters in the mix.

In India a lot of fans are very emotional when it comes to cricketers and there is surely a set group that wanted to bring back Yuvraj after every failure India had in his absence, heck there are fan groups that wouldn’t even mind bringing Sachin back, we do love our cricketers don’t we? This is probably their time to sit back and enjoy Yuvraj who might just be playing a make or break series.

With a volatile middle order, India goes in the ODI series wanting to prove that they are one of the best ODI batting line-ups, a tag they were comfortable carrying around in the hay days of Sachin-Sehwag and Yuvraj-Dhoni partnerships.

 

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