Ind v Pak, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Colombo September 29, 2012

Shastri, Manjrekar question Yuvraj's hasty comeback

ESPNcricinfo staff

Former India players Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Manjrekar have questioned the hasty comeback of Yuvraj Singh after he recovered from cancer earlier this year. Both feel he is not back to full fitness. Shastri said Yuvraj should be left out for the crucial Super Eights match against Pakistan on Sunday, and Manjrekar said he should have been left out of the game against Australia too.

"My contention is, [for] eight months Yuvraj Singh has hardly played cricket, and when it comes to India vs Pakistan I'm not the kind to get emotional," Shastri told TIMES NOW. "I want to pick the best team and beat them. You can't be sentimental here, but be practical."

"My team would have Sehwag opening the innings, especially against Australia," Manjrekar told ESPNcricinfo. "I think it was an opportunity missed, because that was the kind of attack Sehwag likes on this kind of a pitch.

"I would have dropped Yuvraj Singh from my team in that last match, purely because we have seen in the last few matches Yuvraj Singh is still not quite 70% or 80%, maybe it is time now to slowly get him to work on his fitness, keep him involved in Indian cricket, but leaving out Sehwag was not such a good idea because he does what you need right at the start of the innings: put the opposition under pressure."

Yuvraj was included in the World Twenty20 squad, ahead of Ajinkya Rahane, even before he had had any serious match practice, and has played only a handful of T20s since undergoing chemotherapy in March. Shastri said Yuvraj's rustiness was obvious.

"We got to see if Yuvraj is 100% fit, and let's not think about Yuvraj 10 months ago," Shastri said. "No question that he straight away could have walked into any side in world cricket at that time, but having seen him he's still rusty and he's still a bit slow." Yuvraj has scored 60 runs in four T20I matches, and taken four wickets since his return.

No question that he straight away could have walked into any side in world cricket [ten months ago], but having seen him he's still rusty and he's still a bit slow
Shastri on Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj is not the only thorny issue Dhoni has to grapple with. Sehwag's exclusion from the previous match, in which Australia thrashed India by nine wickets, has divided opinion. Shastri said he should be picked against Pakistan at the expense of Yuvraj. "If you go in with three fast bowlers and two spinners, then you have to think about your batting line-up and if Sehwag has to come - which I think he should - then who do you drop in that middle order, and one batsman that comes up is Yuvraj Singh.

"It's not the question of what Yuvraj Singh can do but what is his current state of mind after what he has done and you have to respect that. You can't be too greedy and ask too much from that body that quickly."

Shastri also talked up the impact Sehwag could have on the Pakistan match. "You just have to look at Sehwag's record against Pakistan - it's Bradman-like when you look at his average against them. So Sehwag will have the psychological edge when he gets out there plus the fact that he's been asked to sit out, and I think rightly so, in the last game against Australia, he'll be fired up." Sehwag averages 91.14 against Pakistan in Tests, but only 35.72 against them in ODIs, which is almost exactly the same as his career average. He has played only one T20I against them.

Sehwag's omission in the last game effectively facilitated the inclusion of a third specialist spinner, who had combined figures of 6.5-0-66-0 against Australia. Manjrekar was against going in with three of them for the Pakistan match. "The key is going to be the pitch, let's assume the pitch is going to be the same as we had in the last match, still three spinners is a bit too much, Sehwag has to come back in," he said.

"Even if they want Yuvraj Singh in there, they can get Virender Sehwag in and maybe drop one spinner, either Harbhajan Singh or Piyush Chawla, the choice is up to the captain who they want. I would go for a variation, because when you have Chawla you have a variation of R Ashwin and Chawla as the legspinner, but after his last performance I doubt whether Chawla will get another match if India is playing two specialist spinners."

Shastri said there was no need to play three spinners, given the number of part-time options India had. He also said there was no way India should be opening with Irfan Pathan, which denies their best batsmen the use of crucial overs of a 20-over match.

India's big defeat against Australia means their net run-rate has taken a beating, and they will probably need to win both their remaining Super Eight matches to qualify.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rushikesh on October 1, 2012, 17:59 GMT

    Solid_Snake, Its time to hide in a hole! :) Congrats India!

  • Dummy4 on October 1, 2012, 4:22 GMT

    @Full-Blooded-Wallop: Thanks buddy. As it turned out, he opted for the safest option: four bowlers. :P

  • Dummy4 on September 30, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Manjrekar..are you guys listening & watching...half fit player has been the star so far...

  • Rasif on September 30, 2012, 15:35 GMT

    Chuckling out loud. Yuvraj silences critics. His contribution with ball is enough to find him a place in the team.

  • mark on September 30, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    it seems what happnd to India 2 days ago is going to happn to Pak today ....?? I think Pa shud hav fielded first...

  • Dummy4 on September 30, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    Of course Yuvi is rusty but even then he is lot better than Rohit and Sehwag. Think about a man with 70-80 % fitness could do that , what if he gets into grove in this game he can be best again like he did in winning the world cup.

  • Dummy4 on September 30, 2012, 14:06 GMT

    Why target Yuvraj? 50% fit he still contributes. What has Rohit Sharma done to justify being in the team, let alone the 15?

  • mark on September 30, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    oh dear why Pak decided to bat first? it is not the right decision I guess..bcos this RP ground pitch is changed after relaid and it is batting second is easy as you already jus saw SA-AUS match and previous Aus -Ind game...but anyway good luck Pak..

  • Dummy4 on September 30, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    Why chawla was dropped.........he is a match winner bowler..............but for pakistan

  • Yasir on September 30, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    Whole thread is filled with comments like Drop this and and drop that.. Come on Indian fans give it a break.If India manages to win today,all of the fans would take 180 degree shift and would start praising your team..Instead of doing something about your Bowling,you guys are pissed off with the batsmen.How ironic is that with a team said to have a Great batting line up is now running here and there for an opener.. Go Greens..Get the Blues :)

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