One of the major concerns for the Indian fans ahead of the Asia Cup was that Yuvraj Singh had not got enough time to bat in the recent times.
But, the first couple of games in the Asia Cup have been good exposure for the left hander batting-wise as he has got decent number of deliveries to face.
He hasn’t scored too many runs, but, with more time at the crease, he is bound to get more fluent and that’s what India wants.
India desperately needs Yuvraj to be batting well as he is someone who can hit the big shots for a period of time.
The big hitters that many teams have got, they can hit the ball far back, but, you can’t expect a long stay at the wicket from them. They can come in, chance their arms, a couple of shots out of the park and that’s it
Those players are pretty rare who can keep that hitting spree going for some time and play a 30-ball 75 or a 40-ball 90 sort of knock, but, Yuvraj is definitely one that kind of a player.
If he is in good rhythm, he would not only clear the fence regularly, but, would stay there too. He is not a hit-or-miss.
The pitch in Mohali, which is the venue of the upcoming test match between India and South Africa, has been reported to be going to have quite a bit of grass on it.
If it turns out to be that way, then the South Africans will find the conditions to their liking one more time on this tour.
In the limited-over leg, most of the pitches were flat in nature and turned minimally depriving India the home advantage that they were hoping for.
And, it seems the pattern is to be followed in the test matches as well.
Everybody knows how desperate the Indian team management was to have been given a rank turned for the decider of the One Day International series that was played in Mumbai.
They would have wanted a similar sort of surface for the 1st test match too, but, as the reports are coming through, they would have to be disappointed as their wish would probably be turned down again.
The green surface straightaway puts India on the back foot as South Africa has got the most potent pace battery in the world as far as the test matches are concerned.
Even on flat wickets, it would be advantage South Africa as they have got attacking batsmen right through the order who can play with a high strike rate even in red ball Cricket and can take the game away from the opposition.
So, India’s best chance of winning the Mandela-Gandhi series is if the pitches spin.
England lost the toss yet again, third time in a row, in the ongoing test series in the Emirates and had to bowl first on another hot day at the Sharjah Cricket Ground, but, this time around, they did not let Pakistan get away from them as they bundled them out for just 200 odd runs.
Now, they would like to make sure they bat big in the first innings and take a substantial lead so that they don’t have to chase down too big a total later on as the surface is surely going to be hard to bat on in the last innings of the test match.
It has already started to turn quite a bit and it would only get worse from here.
Earlier, England made a couple of expected changes in the playing XI.
James Taylor was drafted in on the place of a struggling Jos Buttler, while, the spinning all rounder Samit Patel made a comeback in test Cricket after a long, long time to replace Mark Wood.
Patel made an impact with his left arm spin on the first day as he took a couple of crucial wickets. The England team management would be expecting him to contribute with the bat as well.
The selectors have provided the Indian captain MS Dhoni many options in the One Day squad that they have picked for the series against the visiting South African team.
There is a seam bowling all rounder in Stuart Binny and there is also a spin bowling all rounder in Gurkeerat Mann who is uncapped at the international level at the moment.
Apart from that, the squad also contains six specialist bowlers out of which there are three spinners and three quickies.
Now, it’s up to Dhoni to decide what combination he wants to go with.
Dhoni, in all likelihood, would bat at no. 4 himself and Raina would take the crucial no. 6 position.
But, who would be slotted at no. 5 and no. 7?
If Dhoni reckons Binny is a good enough bowler to bowl his full quota, then he might go with a specialist batsman in the form of Ambati Rayudu at no. 5.
But, if the Indian captain has doubts over the bowling credentials of Binny, it opens the door for Gurkeerat who is a hard hitting batsman capable of bowling a bit of off spin.
Gurkeerat can be slotted just below Dhoni in the batting order with Raina and Binny following him and then the tail would start.
Leaving out Rayudu, however, would not be easy. The Hyderabad batsman has made his limited opportunities count. Even in Bangladesh, a couple of games that he played, he stitched a match winning partnership with Dhoni in one of them.
Virat Kohli might have been given the test captaincy of India, but, the BCCI has kept him under consideration for his on and off field behaviour and any act of arrogance in future might cost him big.
According to the reports, the way the Delhi player abused a media person during the World Cup, it did not go well with some of the board officials and if India had any other solid option for Dhoni’s replacement in test matches, Virat might have been denied the captaincy.
But, the fact is that Virat is the only option at present.
He and Ajinkya Rahane are the only two players whose places in the test team are certain.
As far as Rahane is concerned, he does not have any experience of captaincy at all. He has not captained at any level and he is not a natural leader either.
Virat, on the other hand, has got that leadership quality. His enthusiasm on the field is fantastic and he can encourage anyone.
That’s why, he has always been seen as future captain, but, very often, he tends to cross the fine line between aggression and arrogance.
Virat led India in two test matches in the Border-Gavaskar series recently and he was alright with his field placements and bowling changes.