Yuvraj on a sticky wicket

Both Tendulkar and Yuvraj missed India’s Asia Cup triumph in Dambulla last month, but for entirely differing reasons. While Tendulkar asked to be rested from the competition to spend time with his family, Yuvraj was ostensibly dropped on grounds of form and fitness.

The young guns – Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma – as well as the experienced duo of Dinesh Kaarthick and Suresh Raina acquitted themselves well enough for India to break the Asia Cup duck after a 15-year period, which will make it difficult for the national selection panel to overlook their credentials when it meets in Mumbai on Saturday.

With the World Cup in the sub-continent no more than six and a half months away, it is essential for the core group to play as a unit in the build-up, while also making sure that the players aren’t too fatigued by the time the quadrennial extravaganza comes around. India have close to 20 one-day internationals between now and next February, and it is more than likely that the time for experimentation is behind us now.

Tendulkar, in rip-roaring form this year, hasn’t played a 50-over game since his epochal unbeaten double century against South Africa in Gwalior in late February. In the interim, India sent out a second-string squad to Zimbabwe for a tri-series and played in the Asia Cup, with mixed results. Having spent enough time away from the game to recharge his batteries, it is almost certain that the little man will kick off his preparations for the World Cup with the tri-series, where New Zealand are the third team.

Yuvraj’s is a difficult call to make for the selectors. The one-time vice-captain went through a lean phase exacerbated by repeated but unrelated injuries. His omission from the Asia Cup squad was somewhat of a surprise, but understandable from the point of view that it would be difficult to keep him out of the eleven once he is picked in the squad.

That’s the same dilemma that will occupy the minds of the selectors when they meet on the morrow. Yuvraj’s immediate future – including potentially his presence at the World Cup – will hinge on what decision Krishnamachari Srikkanth and his men take on Saturday.

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