Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun
Virat Kohli, India's new limited-overs captain, has said Yuvraj Singh was included in the squads for the ODI and T20I series against England to reduce the burden on MS Dhoni in an inexperienced middle order ahead of the Champions Trophy in June.
Kohli also said Ambati Rayudu, who made a century for India A in a warm-up against England, was not picked in the squads because he had not had enough game time after missing the Ranji Trophy season because of an injury.
Yuvraj, on the other hand, scored 672 runs at an average of 84 in five matches for Punjab, with score of 260 and 177. Though he had averaged only 18.53 in his last 19 ODIs going back to 2012, Yuvraj was selected because there wasn't enough time to groom a younger batsman: India have only three ODIs before the Champions Trophy.
"We cannot leave so much burden on MS alone in the middle order," Kohli said on the eve of the first ODI against England in Pune. "I am willing to take responsibility up the order, but there needs to be one more guy with him down the order in case the top order doesn't fire."
"If the top order doesn't fire, you are left with MS alone and he is guiding the youngsters more often than not, which is fine if you have 15-20 games till a big tournament. When you have only three games, you need to make sure the guys who have been picked are in good form. That's why I said we brought in Yuvi, to have the best batting combination possible, and Yuvi has had a very good first-class season. This just gives the team much more balance in the middle and lower-middle order with MS and Yuvi."
Yuvraj and Dhoni have scored 2795 runs in partnership at an average of 50 in 63 ODIs, and Kohli said Yuvraj's return would allow Dhoni to play shots without worrying about the thinness of the line-up after him.
"I think he [Dhoni] will have a bit more assurance knowing that he doesn't have to think twice before attempting a big shot," Kohli said. "They feed off each other's momentum and one can play the aggressive role and one can keep knocking it around in singles. I'm sure they will be looking forward to doing it together.
"To have two experienced guys compared to one is a massive difference. I am sure Hardik [Pandya] and Kedar [Jadhav] can learn a lot from them batting along with them."
In his first series as full-time ODI and T20I captain, Kohli said he wanted to learn from Dhoni. "I think he's been so successful because he's been able to find the right balance in being offensive with his plans as well as understanding the game when it is dominated by the opposition on how to slow things down," Kohli said. "I think that's his biggest strength. It happens in Test cricket but in the shorter format you have to make it happen even quicker because the game can drift away quickly.
"Having played a lot of white-ball cricket batting at No. 3, I have a good understanding of how situations can go wrong or turn immediately. It helps when you are a top-order batsman yourself, to understand what the opposition batsmen would be thinking at what stage and which are the bowlers they would find uncomfortable."
"But again, MS' views will be priceless for me as well. It's just that I am in charge of decisions now and he will be giving his views, which was the case before as well where I'd be giving my views and still his decision was paramount. I think we both understand as professional cricketers, and it'll be pretty smooth."
With India having begun to use the DRS - one review per innings in ODIs - Kohli said Dhoni's role was "priceless". "I saw a stat yesterday that 95% of his appeals that he's made in his career have been successful," Kohli said. "He's one voice, if he tells me it's outside the line or it is missing, the decision stands there - it's not left for any further debate. His word will be the one that I will trust as far as DRS is concerned because he is in the best position, plus he's the most intelligent cricketer around."
Kohli also said he would like to take the bulk of the responsibility with the bat and free up Dhoni to experiment more with his attacking game. "I'm sure having that extra burden of taking responsibility, sometimes it can restrict you," Kohli said. "I've also felt that quite a few times but maybe because my game is dependent on me playing in an offensive way, I haven't had to curb my game too much. I know it won't improve my game and it won't benefit the team.
"MS was able to absorb that pressure for a long time. But I'm sure he'll be able to experiment a bit with his offensive game that he displayed when he came in. Not that he didn't later on, but he was calculative with it, understanding the team situation. I'm not saying he will go out there and slog every ball. He's a smart cricketer and we've all seen that."