Yuvraj Singh’s patchy form and fear of inclement weather will be paramount when India take on the West Indies in the second One Day International, here today. The first ODI was abandoned after 39.2 overs with India reaching 199 for 3 when persistent showers played spoilsport. Shikhar Dhawan’s 87 and comeback-man Ajinkya Rahane’s 62 were the highlights of the Indian innings. While weather is not in their control, what will keep Virat Kohli a touch worried is Yuvraj’s form which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence of the highest order. After a half-century against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy opener, Yuvraj’s sequence of scores has been 7 (vs Sri Lanka), 23 not out (vs South Africa), 22 (vs Pakistan in CT final) and 4 (1st ODI vs WI).
There is no debate on the class and experience of Yuvraj but at 35-plus, he surely is a shadow of his old self. His fielding has gone from bad to worse and skipper Kohli has not felt the need to summon him to bowl his left-arm spinners. Former India captain and current India U-19 coach Rahul Dravid had recently said that team management should have a clear cut policy whether they want Yuvraj going into the 2019 World Cup. With just two years left and around 45-50 ODIs to be played, Kohli will have to take a call in the next few months about Yuvraj figuring in his scheme of things. An explosive left-hander like Rishabh Pant, the most exciting batting prospect among the Gen-Next is waiting in the wings, eagerly for his chance. The veteran can’t take his place for granted in the side.
Not to forget an injured Manish Pandey waiting to get fit and prove his mettle in the 50-over format. With the first match being a wash-out, India are unlikely to change their playing XI for the second ODI, which will be played at the same venue. For Rahane, the half-century will be a confidence booster, knowing fully well that he will have to vacate the top spot once Rohit Sharma is back during the next limited overs assignment. It was not the smoothest of innings by any standards but if one assesses the track which was slightly on the slower side, Rahane did well to add 132 with Dhawan, who has been in blazing form. Come to think of it, even Dhawan’s second coming has been largely due to KL Rahul’s shoulder surgery and he has made full use of the opportunity since the start of the Champions Trophy. After emerging as the top-scorer in England winning the ‘Golden Bat’, Dhawan has carried his form into the Caribbean islands, which augurs well both for him and his team.
India also need a full match, which will help the team management test left-arm Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav’s abilities as a shorter format bowler. Kuldeep was handed a debut during the first match in place of Ravindra Jadeja, who didn’t have a great Champions Trophy with the ball. Jadeja still remains the country’s premier left-arm spinner but the West Indies series is an ideal platform to test youngsters.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Rishabh Pant
West Indies: Jason Holder (captain), Jonathan Carter, Miguel Joseph, Alzarri Joseph, Jason Mohammed, Kieran Powell, Kesrick Williams, Devendra Bishoo, Roston Chase, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell.