Yuvraj Singh and Ravindra Jadeja are in fine form in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season and their performances have given selectors options ahead of the selection committee meeting for the last two ODIs and the first two Tests against South Africa.
India’s 18-run loss in the third ODI against South Africa in Rajkot on Sunday has thrown up plenty of questions in India’s batting line-up. The inability of the lower-middle order to finish of games has flummoxed Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and he admitted during the presentation ceremony that India are still not able to find out batsmen who can fit in the middle order and close games in a chase.
“We are looking for batsmen to play at Numbers 5, 6 and 7. Till they play there, we won’t know who is a good bet over there. We are looking to give chances as well so it’s a tricky one,” Dhoni remarked. (Virat Kohli’s Heroics in Vain as South Africa Beat India)
In this series, the lower-middle order has proved to be a problem for Dhoni and his team. Suresh Raina is in woeful form, having scored just three runs with two consecutive ducks. Ajinkya Rahane continues to be a floater while the rotation of Dhoni and Virat Kohli in the batting order is also not working. Axar Patel has still not contributed anything significant with the bat, making the tail that much longer. (India in Need of Much Better Middle Order: Mahendra Singh Dhoni)
It is this conundrum that the selectors need to address as they sit down and select the team for the last two one-day internationals and the first two Tests against South Africa. It is in this backdrop that the selectors might look for fresh faces or fall back on experience. (Yuvraj Singh Slams 187 As Punjab Draw Against Gujarat in Ranji Trophy)
The two names doing the rounds for a comeback into the Indian team are Yuvraj Singh and Ravindra Jadeja. With R Ashwin sidelined by a side strain and with Axar not contributing as expected, the selectors might be tempted to bring back Jadeja, who has been taking wickets for fun in the Ranji Trophy.
Jadeja is the leading wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy so far with 24 wickets at a staggering average of 8.25. With the bat, he has also scored 147 runs at an average of 73.5. Although the returns have come against weak teams like Tripura and Jharkhand, Jadeja’s outstanding form might tempt Dhoni to fall back on his experience in the lower-middle order.
Yuvraj is the other player that the selectors could be tempted in bringing back. The dashing southpaw, who last played for India during the 2014 World Twenty20 final against Sri Lanka in Dhaka, has gotten back in the reckoning due to his knock of 187 against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy match in Mohali. The knock included 14 fours and seven sixes and he was scoring at a strike-rate of over 80. He has also been bowling regularly for Punjab and has managed to get three wickets so far. However, it is this all-round ability that might prove to be useful for India in the next two ODIs.
Speaking to NDTV, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar has said that Yuvraj needs to be looked at. “Yuvraj is in form. As a bowler, he can bowl a few overs and give the depth in the batting. There is no questioning his class. He may concede a few more runs then say an Axar Patel but will score more than Axar and he is top class in the field,” Gavaskar said.
Gavaskar also stated that Yuvraj’s age must not be a factor and that his experience will be the key if India are to make a comeback in the series against South Africa, which they are currently trailing 1-2.
“The series is important. India need to look for horses for courses. Pick experience now and build the team later in the season. The priority must be to win the series against South Africa. Look at Yuvraj’s pedigree and look at the way he was won matches for India in the past,” Gavaskar said.