'I wouldn't drop Yuvraj from the XV' - Kiran More
Kiran More, India's former chief selector, has criticised the axing of Yuvraj Singh from the Asia Cup squad. More said it was too close to the 2011 World Cup to drop a player of Yuvraj's calibre. He also questioned the decision to leave out India's more experienced pace options, the likes of Sreesanth, RP Singh, Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma.
"You can always send a message to Yuvraj," More told Cricinfo. " 'Sit on the bench. You'll be in the reserves, we are playing somebody else but be part of the team, get your fitness right, get your act right and get disciplined also.' That would give him more encouragement. But only one player has been pointed out, and they've dropped him from the Asia Cup."
Yuvraj has averaged 24.7 in his last 11 ODIs, and scored a best of 43 in 14 games in the IPL this year. His fitness in the recent past has come in for criticism and he was also issued a show-cause notice by the BCCI for an alleged pub brawl in St Lucia following India's exit from the World Twenty20.
"They are making a mistake," More said. "If the World Cup is so close by, I'll not fiddle around with the team. I will not drop Yuvraj Singh from the XV."
More said India needed to identify a pool of 20-22 players and not look beyond them for the World Cup. However, he was surprised that none of Sreesanth, Munaf, Ishant or RP was picked for the World Twenty20, the tri-series in Zimbabwe or the ongoing A tour of England. He said the decision to ignore an experienced set of seamers hurt the possibility of their return to the national side and remain in contention for the World Cup.
"I'm very surprised that RP, Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth have not been picked. They were part of the team one and a half months back, and now they are not among the next 60 also," More said. "They didn't go to Zimbabwe, they didn't go the A tour of England. Suddenly your main players are missing from the next 60, how are they going to make a comeback?
"The guys who have gone to England for the A tour, they are going to do well. The matches there will not be very competitive, and they are going to come back and be in the reckoning for a place in the Indian team. Not Ishant, RP, Irfan or Sreesanth.
"I don't know if [Ashok] Dinda or [Umesh] Yadav are going to play the World Cup. They could have gone to England as part of the A team and gained some good experience for two-and-a-half-months there. It's too early for these guys to get into the 2011 World Cup."
More also felt Yusuf Pathan had not been given a fair run before being dropped. Yusuf had a poor World Twenty20, averaging just 10.50, and has scored just two half-centuries in his 37-match ODI career. "I'm not very happy with Yusuf Pathan's place in the batting order," he said. "He's been batting at No.7 all the time. You are always batting in a difficult situation at that position, and you have to score quick runs. He got 44 in his last innings; it's not a fair call on him also."
Among the newer players in the squad, More singled out the offspinner R Ashwin as a promising prospect and said he should have played more matches on the tour of Zimbabwe. "We need a surprise bowler for the World Cup, and our concern is in the bowling department," More said. "Ashwin has done well domestically, and is a different bowler. He's got a lot of variety and a good height to bowl offspin. He should have been a certainty in the playing XI in Zimbabwe. I hope he gets more opportunities."
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo