In fast-paced T20s, all eyes on ageing warriors Yuvraj, Nehra, Harbhajan

  • Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times, Adelaide
  • Updated: Jan 26, 2016 12:08 IST
YuvrajSingh last played an international for India in April 2014, in the World T20 final. (PTI Photo)

As the Indian players walked across the Adelaide Oval after training, the Australians were bouncing around in the field during an intense fielding session.

Twenty20 cricket calls for a lot of ground-fielding and tough catching and the home team kick-started their T20 series campaign by focusing on these aspects.

Even though India preferred a regular net session, the team management will keenly observe the fielding in the three T20 games this week.

Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra, who formed the core of MS Dhoni’s team that won the 2011 World Cup, have joined the T20 squad. Their inclusion indicates that the selectors are toying with the idea of using their World Cup-winning experience for this year’s World T20.

In fact, after a long time there are seven from that squad training together --- Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin and Virat Kohli being the others.

Yuvraj has made a comeback through his fine showing in the domestic one-dayers, Nehra on the back of his impressive performances in last year’s Indian Premier League while Harbhajan has been frequently travelling with the team.

At the nets at Adelaide Oval, Nehra was the most impressive bowler, Yuvraj looked in good nick while Harbhajan settled into a good rhythm and worked on his variations.

However, Nehra is 36, Harbhajan 35 and Yuvraj 34. The left-arm pacer’s last international game was five years ago, the World Cup semifinal against Pakistan in March 2011, at Mohali. Yuvraj last played an international in April 2014, at the World T20.

Although Yuvraj and Harbhajan are playing domestic cricket regularly, Nehra has played only three matches since the IPL: One in Vijay Hazare one-dayers and two in Mushtaq Ali T20s.

Twenty20 is not just about skills, it is played at a furious pace, demanding great agility and mobility. The senior pros will have to be sharp in the outfield too. Lack of swiftness is easily exposed on the big grounds here.

If these three can live up to this rigorous test, they will be in the running for the World T20 squad.

Skipper Dhoni has the task of finding right positions in the field for the three. Yuvraj used to be brilliant in the ring, Harbhajan was a safe hand at mid-on and mid-off while Nehra usually manned the fine-leg region.

Yuvraj, who started his T20 career with a bang, being Dhoni’s main man at the 2007 World T20, hasn’t enjoyed success in the IPL despite the record prices he has commanded after recovering from illness. If he lives up to his reputation here, he can provide the X-factor lacking in the team. Apart from power-hitting, he can also chip in with a couple of overs.

Bowling remains India’s weak link and team director Ravi Shastri is hoping the ODI experience can make the difference.

Of all the T20 games India are going to play in the build-up to the World T20 at home, these three ties will be the toughest considering the opposition and conditions.

They will, however, bring great benefits to the table, especially in terms of the ability to react to a particular situation and soak the pressure.

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