Two years ago, as Yuvraj Singh quietly wept tears of joy at the non-strikers end after MS Dhoni walloped the world cup-winning six, there were not many who would have bet he would be struggling to keep his place in the team two years down the line.
Yuvraj Singh will not be going to New Zealand in India’s first tour this year. He has been dropped after his none-too impressive show in South Africa. Indian selectors announced the team on Tuesday and the Southpaw alongwith Pragyan Ojha have been dropped.
True, Yuvraj overcame cancer and it’s also true that he went to France, alongwith Zaheer Khan, to regain his fitness and staged a dramatic comeback to the team. However, being dropped again is a setback that will ask for even more out of him if he wants to be part of India’s crowded calendar.
The southpaw’s string of low scores and poor bowling has led to his omission from the ODI squad. His poor fielding, which used to be his plus point till the 2011 World Cup, too has come in for scrutiny in the recent matches. But the man who is replacing him will have a tough ask ahead as the tag of ‘selector’s son’ is going to chase Stuart Binny for sure.
A lot was expected from the Indian selectors on Tuesday in the wake of the humiliating defeat in Durban just few hours before the meeting. The two new faces which have been included in the team are Madhya Pradesh’s lanky pacer Ishwar Pandey and current Indian selector Roger Binny’s son and Karnataka all rounder Stuart.
Though, Stuart is only a part of One-day squad, Pandey will be in both ODI and Test squad— rewarded for his consistent performance over the last two seasons.
Fit-again pacer Varun Aaron has been included in the ODIs in place of Mohit Sharma, who looked pedestrian against West Indies and then in South Africa. But Ojha’s omission has raised many an eyebrow as he was dropped without a chance to play single game in South Africa.
But 29-year-old Binny has two successful seasons to show. He will be part of the squad that will play five ODI’s in New Zealand’s windy conditions starting January 19 at Napier.
MP pacer Pandey has taken 30 wickets in the ongoing Ranji season at an average of 24.76. He was also the leading wicket-taker during last Ranji season, taking 48 wickets at 21.06.
His recent performance against Railways in Indore where he took eight for 84 again forced selectors to think hard on his inclusion. The lanky 6’1” tall Pandey bowls at a consistent pace between 130 to 135 kmph and is known for getting good bounce even on docile domestic pitches.
Middle-order batsman Ajinkya Rahane has been retained in both versions after his gutsy performances in South Africa. Shikhar Dhawan certainly deserved yet another chance but Rohit Sharma, too, given longer run after some recent disastrous performances in two Tests.
The five ODIs will be held at Napier (Jan 19), Hamilton (Jan 22 and Jan 28), Auckland (Jan 25) and Wellington (Jan 31). The two Tests will be hosted by Auckland (Feb 6-10) and Wellington (Feb 14-18).
ODI squad: MS Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, Ishwar Pandey, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron
Test squad: MS Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha, Ishwar Pandey.