India in New Zealand 2013-14 December 30, 2013

Yuvraj likely to make way for Pujara

India's national selectors will meet on Tuesday in Mumbai to pick the squad for the five ODIs in New Zealand in January. On their just-concluded tour of South Africa, India lost two ODIs heavily while their bowlers conceded 301 in the washed-out third game. However, the selectors are not expected to tinker too much with the one-day unit, with the focus being on providing stability to the outfit in the run-up to the 2015 World Cup. Cheteshwar Pujara's Test displays in South Africa are likely to earn him a spot ahead of Yuvraj Singh, which is expected to be the only major change.

Yuvraj had undergone a strenuous fitness program in France and forced his way back into the side for the home limited-overs series against Australia In October following a string of big scores in List A cricket. His first innings on comeback was an unbeaten, match-winning 77 in the solitary Twenty20 in Rajkot but a torrid ODI series followed, in which he scraped 19 runs from four innings at an average of 4.75. Each time, he fell to a fast bowler, succumbing three times to the pace of Mitchell Johnson alone.

He did make a fifty in the following three-match home ODI series against West Indies, but struggled against Sunil Narine's offspin. At the Wanderers, he made a second-ball duck in his only innings in the South Africa ODIs.

Yuvraj's form in the occasional Ranji Trophy match he has played for Punjab has also been disappointing. He made 33 and 40 against Mumbai, 0 and 4 against Delhi and was out for 39 in the first innings of the ongoing game against Jharkhand.

Pujara, on the other hand, averaged 70 over the two Tests despite not being part of the ODI squad that had had a taste of South African conditions beforehand. Pujara has played only two ODIs compared to 17 Tests, and there have been calls for him to be given a bigger role in one-dayers, given his tight technique and the fact that the 2015 World Cup will be played in Australia and New Zealand.

Among the others, Mohit Sharma's place could be under scrutiny, after his lackluster display in the Wanderers ODI, where he went for 82 runs from ten overs.

It is not certain if the selectors will use the same meeting to choose the side for the two Tests in Auckland and Wellington that follow the one-dayers in New Zealand. If they do, there are unlikely to be major changes, with the batsmen doing reasonably well, barring the last day in Durban, and the fast bowlers carrying out heavy workloads.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments