The first test between India and Pakistan starts in a few days and one of the batsmen who has put up a strong case for inclusion in the Test team is Yuvraj Singh.
But, you look at his test record and there is nothing outstanding there. It reads a modest 19 matches, 29 innings, 830 runs @33.20. In his 29 outings to the crease, he has only scored 2 centuries and 3 fifties. In fact, in the last 5 matches that he has played, he averages just a shade over 19.
Not good. Not good at all.
So, why is there suddenly a case for Yuvraj to be included in the test team?
First and foremost, his form. His ODI form this year has been excellent – In the 33 innings that he has played, he averages around 46 and in the recently concluded India-Pakistan series, he has crossed 50 four times out of five. Do I even need to mention his exploits in the Twenty20 format? His ability to score at a quick clip will be useful in the Indian middle order which has the tendency to slow down the scoring rate quite drastically of late.
It is also time, India decided to prepare the next set of players to take over from Laxman, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid. Any further delay in the introduction of youth into the side will be disastrous to India and the selectors must surely be aware of that.
What else has he got?
His fielding. Yuvraj Singh’s fielding will surely infuse some new energy into the test team. I don’t think Yuvraj is good enough as a bowler in Tests, but he can probably bowl a few filler overs to give the main bowlers a break and it does add another dimension to his inclusion.
What doesn’t work in his favour?
I can probably answer that with another question – Where would you fit him? The opener slots are taken (not that Yuvraj has any interest in them) and the next two spots have been taken up by Dravid and Tendulkar. Arguably, either Ganguly or Laxman will have to make way for him. But, Ganguly’s aggregate of runs against the England was the second highest for India and the only batsman to average more than Laxman (51.25) was Dhoni (52.25). I am not counting Kumble (54.00) as a batsman 🙂 .
Will the selectors be bold enough to drop either of them for Yuvraj Singh? In spite of knowing that they have to bring in youngsters into the middle order, Indian selectors are usually very reluctant to introduce change.
Yuvraj’s detractors will also point out that he had an even better ODI season in 2005-06, when he averaged around 58 with the bat, but failed to take his ODI form into Test cricket. Most critics also question his ability to tackle quality spin bowling.
So, what do you think – Should he be included, and more importantly – Will he be included?