Yuvraj Singh is probably one of the most frustrating cricketers in India at the moment. You look at the way he plays ODIs and you would think he *has* to be on the Test team – alas, the two formats are like chalk and cheese. And Yuvraj the ODI specialist and Yuvraj the test batsmen are two completely different players.
Yuvraj burst into the International scene with a bang while still in his teens, and showed so much potential – everyone knew he was a future super star.
He has still got it in him. Just look at his performance in the 2011 World Cup – Player of the tournament, 362 runs at an average of 90.50, and four man of the match awards to boot. Did I mention he also took 15 wickets in the tournament? You just can’t fault him…
But move over to Tests, and it is a completely different story. An average of 35 in 56 innings is barely passable and if you watched Yuvraj scratch around for his 25 in the first innings, you would start to wonder what he is doing in this team.
With Raina (is he another Yuvraj in the making?), Rohit Sharma, Pujara, Rahane, Kohli, Jadeja, etc knocking on the door, his position is the shakiest in the team. And considering the fact that he was an utter failure when India toured Australia last time around, would you pick him? He hasn’t scored a century in tests in close to 4 years. Sure, he has been in and out of the team in those fours years (which itself tells us something, right?), but 27 innings without a 3 figure score is just not good enough.
Four years ago, when the Indian team was picked to tour Australia, there was one notable absentee – Virender Sehwag. Back then I blogged about why he should be in the team in spite of his poor form (he eventually was included in the squad, but I digress). In the case of Yuvraj, I feel the exact opposite, he should not be picked in the Test team for the Australian team.
(BTW – You also need to read these previous posts – Good horses in unfamiliar courses (Oct 2011), the contenders (Nov 2008), the case for (and against) Yuvraj Singh… (Nov 2007) and you’ll realise that nothing has changed in all these years – Let’s just put an end to this persistence with Yuvraj and drop him from the Test team)
Having said all this, Yuvraj has one big supporter in the team – captain MS Dhoni, and that may just be enough to pen his name in the team selection. He could also end up scoring a century in the next game against the West Indies and find himself on a plane to Melbourne. I guess, the door hasn’t entirely closed on him yet.
For the other “Singh”, Harbhajan Singh, the door is closing a lot faster. Dropped from the team for the first two tests, is in itself an ominous sign. And add to it, good performance from his replacement, Ashwin and poor Ranji performances (none for 92 in the first game and one for 50 in the second match) don’t help either.
We all know that Harbhajan and Australia have a history, and some of his best performances have been against them. When Australia toured India last year, I blogged that Harbhajan needs to step up, but nothing has changed in the last 12 months to indicate that he has. If you take out his 7/120 against South Africa at the beginning of the year, he averages around 40 in the last 12 months. Not figures to be proud of. More importantly, he looked totally ineffective in England. Being in the top 10 wicket takers of all time doesn’t mean automatic selection if you can’t back it up with performance.
I will surely miss his fiery bowling when he is on a roll, combative spirit in the field and even his never-say-die batting abilities – particularly against the Aussies, but I am afraid he just needs to be left out of the team that tours Australia this time