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Yuvraj’s shadow looms large in Dambulla

cricket Updated: Jun 24, 2010 01:30 IST

Hindustan Times
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India have a dilemma. They are without Virender Sehwag and need a long innings from one of the top-order to plug for the obvious deficiencies.

Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni have been the key to India’s campaign and it’s easy to see why. Both are averse to wasting good starts but it is dangerous to rest too much on their shoulders. The middle order of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina shouldn’t let it go beyond them.

Time and again, the shadow of Yuvraj Singh looms large. His virtues in India’s one-day plans are obvious. He is an excellent finisher and is able to shift momentum at the opportune moment. India need him fit and in-form and, above all, hungry.

The game against Pakistan is a case in point. He would have been ideal to follow the Gambhir-Dhoni stand. India could have avoided the sweat till the penultimate ball.

Besides, Yuvraj’s absence is forcing Dhoni to come at number four. That probably is too high an order for the captain. He is ideal at number five while Yuvraj can make the No. 4 spot all his own. But then, this is about Yuvraj at his prime and not his uncertain self of today.

The present young trio can flourish and learn the ropes under a senior’s guidance but to leave them to man the entire middle overs is unfair. India’s batting balance isn’t quite right. Bowling isn’t their strength too.

The slowness of Dambulla defangs the faster bowlers. Spinners have a huge role and it’s a delight to see how Ravindra Jadeja has responded to his captain’s faith. Dhoni didn’t desert him after the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies and the youngster is determined to earn respect.

Saurabh Tiwary and R. Ashwin look set to return home without a game. Their only opportunity, the game against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, is gone. Tiwary should have been given the opportunity ahead of Dinesh Kartik with Kohli made to open.

India need to develop a bigger pool and the only way to do so is to blood youngsters whenever possible. Tiwary was made to leave the fold of the India ‘A’ side in England for the Asia Cup and thus it’s a double blow for him.

India have a few proven match-winners and the title beckons on Thursday. The right call at the toss will be a good way to begin the quest.