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Asia Cup 2014: Short of expectations

Players given a chance by selectors with an eye on World Cup haven’t really made the opportunity count.

Playing in the tournament only because MS Dhoni sat out, Dinesh Karthik has made only 29 runs in three innings (AP) Playing in the tournament only because MS Dhoni sat out, Dinesh Karthik has made only 29 runs in three innings (AP)

Ajinkya Rahane has an experience of 26 One-day Internationals. His scores, staring from the bilateral series against South Africa in December, read: 8, 7, 36, 3, 3, 2, 73, 22, 23. He has just one half century and has wasted three starts. Rahane, who batted at No.4 in the narrow loss against Pakistan at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, is a young batsman trying to find his feet in international cricket. 

Ambati Rayudu batted at No.5 and made 58, a notable innings considering it came in his first match against Pakistan. But Rayudu has played only nine ODIs. His half-century against Misbah-ul-Haq’s team was his second-best score after his unbeaten 63 against Zimbabwe. (Full Coverage Asia Cup 2014)

Wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik has played 70 One-day Internationals but this number has been accumulated over nearly 10 years. At No.6, he made 23 off 46 balls at a strike rate of 50. Karthik’s opportunities have been limited in the past. He is at the Asia Cup because MS Dhoni has been rested.

Rahane and Rayudu are playing at the Asia Cup because the selectors have been prepared to given them an opportunity and look beyond Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh, who have played a combined total of 482 ODIs.

The Indian team playing the Asia Cup is relatively inexperienced. The bowling department too is thin on experience.

Fast bowler Varun Aaron has only played a handful of matches after returning from an injury lay-off. His international experience is limited to just eight ODIs and one Test.

One win in 10 matches

India now have won just once in their last 10 completed One-day Internationals. They lost the ODI series in South Africa and New Zealand in tougher batting conditions. And now being virtually knocked out of the Asia Cup in home-like conditions would be a cause of alarm if the inexperience of the side and the fact that the selectors have decided to give talented youngsters a bit of international exposure is not taken into consideration.

Virat Kohli spoke about the inexperience in the side after the loss against Pakistan on Sunday.

“If you compare the experience of our team with them, it’s massive. It’s huge. And in international cricket it really counts a lot. You can get away with it in T20, but in the 50-over format, you need to show a lot of character,” Kohli said.

The composition of India’s World T20 side will be different. Both Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina have been included for the shortest format. Dhoni will be back to lead the side.

So by giving the younger players a break in the 50-over format, the selectors are getting a better look at them with the World Cup less than a year away. India have a massive year ahead, starting with the World T20 and culminating in the World Cup.

Yuvraj Singh has struggled since his return after overcoming lung cancer. He has struggled against the pace of Mitchell Johnson and Dale Steyn. Suresh Raina had to be given the message that he must stop taking his place for granted. The southpaw is expected to return stronger if he learns from his mistakes.

“Yuvraj still is a match-winner in the shorter format and must go to the World Cup,” says Sourav Ganguly.

In fact, Yuvraj strongly figures in the selectors’ scheme of things for the showpiece event as well and good performances in the World T20 and IPL will help him make a come back to the 50-overs format. The same holds good for Raina.

Without having enough matches under their belt, the Rahanes and the Rayudus will find it almost impossible to step into the big shoes.

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