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Can Yuvraj Singh, 35, withstand rigours of England ODI, T20I series?

The Indian Express logoThe Indian Express 07-01-2017
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Virat Kohli’s appointment as India’s limited-overs captain was a formality. His preference to full-strength ODI and T20 squads – from the options available – in his first series as full-time skipper was also understandable. Even the confusion and email exchanges between BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, the “disqualified” cricket board joint-secretary Amitabh Choudhary and the Lodha Committee, which preceded the selection committee meeting in Mumbai on Friday and forced two-and-a-half hours delay, were understandable. Yuvraj Singh’s return to the 15-member ODI squad, however, was baffling.

This meeting was supposed to set the roadmap for the future under a new captain. MS Dhoni stepped down as limited-overs skipper two days prior to the selection meeting, ostensibly to allow Kohli enough time to build his own team with an eye to the World Cup two years hence. Dhoni is still one of the fittest members of the side, but he is 35 and carries a question mark over his longevity as a top-flight cricketer until 2019. He took the right call.

Yuvraj, too, is 35 and not as fit as Dhoni. His movements in the field have become sluggish and running between the wickets iffy. He is very unlikely to be in the reckoning for the next World Cup. So why Yuvraj? Picking him for the T20 internationals is still understandable, although his batting in the ICC World T20 last year suggested that he could no longer play the lead. More importantly, can Yuvraj withstand the rigours of three ODIs in seven days with three more T20s to follow?

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That the Punjab left-hander is a short-term fix with the ICC Champions Trophy scheduled later this year and doesn’t appear a sound logic. India’s batting doesn’t need a short-term fix. Rohit Sharma’s return in two months time would bolster the strength. Maybe, Jayant Yadav’s unavailability because of a jarred hamstring prompted the MSK Prasad-led selection committee to bring back Yuvraj – his left-arm spin provides an option – to the ODI fold after three years. But the selectors should have looked forward.

“We should appreciate how Yuvraj has played in domestic circuit. He did extremely well. One of his hundreds came in Lahli, so we were happy with the way he played,” Prasad said. Yuvraj has scored 672 runs at 84.00 in five matches this Ranji season alright, but younger players like Rishabh Pant, Ishank Jaggi, Ishan Kishan and Deepak Hooda performed even better. Pant’s inclusion to the T20 squad was a reward for his stroke-play and consistency in the Ranji Trophy. He could have been considered for the ODIs as well.

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