Yuvraj back in limited-overs squad
Yuvraj Singh has made a comeback to India's limited-overs squad for the Twenty20 and first three ODIs of the home series against Australia. There were four changes made to India's last first-choice ODI squad, the one that won the Champions Trophy in England. Yuvraj replaced opener M Vijay, Dinesh Karthik lost out to his Mumbai Indians team-mate Ambati Rayudu, the injured Irfan Pathan made way for Mohammed Shami, and Jaydev Unadkat's left-arm seam was preferred to Umesh Yadav's erratic-at-times pace.
"I am happy the selectors have reposed faith in me. Now, I have to deliver," Yuvraj told Mid-Day, after news of his selection broke. "My footwork and timing are alright. The bat swing is in order as well. That is why I got runs against the West Indies and New Zealand A teams. That gave me confidence. Now, I have to capitalise on the opportunity."
Yuvraj's last ODI was against England in Dharamsala in January 2013. He was dropped from the squad for the Champions Trophy and did not feature in the Zimbabwe series either, when India had rested several first-choice players. However, following a fitness programme in France, he has shown a return to top form in List A cricket. He was the leading run-getter for India A in the limited-overs series against the touring West Indies A, with 224 runs from three matches, including one hundred and a fifty at an average of 74.66. He also scored a half-century for India Blue in the Challenger Trophy, a domestic 50-overs tournament.
A fit Yuvraj is seen as a bigger asset than Karthik. Karthik had a decent run in England and in Zimbabwe, but he failed to reach 50 in the tri-series in the West Indies. In effect, Karthik has lost out to Rayudu, who scored 101 runs off 163 balls at an average of 50.5 against Zimbabwe.
Two other changes from the Champions Trophy squad mostly explain themselves. Vijay struggled in the West Indies, and Irfan is injured. Yadav, though, remains a curious case. He cannot have been considered unfit because he played the Challenger Trophy last week. He cannot have been rested because he is just coming out of a break. The selectors have either begun to look at him as a Test-only prospect or it was his performance in the Champions Trophy that has got him the axe: four wickets and an economy rate of 5.55 in a mostly low-scoring tournament. His economy rate in the West Indies tri-series hovered around the same mark. His career economy rate also stands at over six, and an average of 41.58 doesn't do him any favours.
The seam-bowling replacements, Shami and Unadkat, played all the five ODIs in Zimbabwe, and have been retained. Mohit, who played two of them and was Man of the Match in the first of them, was expected to replace Vinay Kumar, but the Karnataka quick has retained his place. Vinay went at 6.03 in the recently concluded Challenger Trophy, although he did pick up eight wickets in three matches.
Batsmen Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, seamer Mohit and spinner Parvez Rasool missed out from the team that played Zimbabwe.