Exciting times for Indian selectors - Eric Simons
Having sealed the series 4-0, India's bowling consultant Eric Simons has said the team planned to rest some of its key players for the fifth match against New Zealand. India played Praveen Kumar, Rohit Sharma and Saurabh Tiwary in the previous game in Bangalore, which meant that everyone in the 14-member squad had played at least once in the series.
"There are no injury concerns," Simons said. "No one is ruled out but if we don't play anybody tomorrow, it will be more of a precautionary measure because we leave for South Africa in a few days time. We are not experimenting, and will pick the best team we can."
India's young team has ticked most of the boxes during this series, giving the side strong momentum ahead of the World Cup. Yuvraj Singh's indifferent form with the bat, though, remains an area of concern. Despite getting starts in most games, he has managed only 78 runs in the series but Simons was not too bothered by the numbers.
"Yuvraj was under tremendous pressure the other day [in the fourth match] but his shot selection was pretty good," Simons said. "I am quite happy with the way he played. He was striking the ball pretty well. He is clearing the boundary with ease and that proves he is timing the ball well, and batting with confidence."
Simons was also full of praise for Yusuf Pathan, who forced his name into World Cup selection debates with a match-winning century in Bangalore. "Lots of people talk about Yusuf's power but what excited me more was his temperament between the boundaries," Simons said. "That is something he has added to his repertoire and augurs well for him as a number seven batsmen."
Apart from Yusuf, fringe players like Virat Kohli, R Ashwin, Parthiv Patel and Rohit Sharma have also grabbed the opportunites that have come their way, and Simons said their performances could leave the selectors with too many choices.
"When the World Cup team is selected, a number of guys will be in contention because players are putting up their hands," he said. "It is a very exciting time for coaches and selectors. It is tremendous to see Parthiv Patel working hard for a place. It develops healthy competition among the entire squad. Ashwin has been very encouraging. He has different variations in his bowling which plays a key factor in the slog overs. I think he is moving forward with each performance."
Simons, however, admitted that the bowling in the end overs was still a worry for the side and that it would be one of the major focus areas leading up to the World Cup.