Yuvraj Singh: Yuvraj Singh’s call-up for the T20 internationals in Australia was expected. In fact, his omission for the ODI leg of the tour was a minor surprise given that the selectors had dropped Suresh Raina. The 34-year-old returns to the Indian team on the heels of his 346 runs at 69.20 (strike-rate 100.28) in six matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20, he wasn’t that successful (56 runs, four games) but still maintained a strike-rate of 107.69. India desperately seek an X-factor, batting-wise, now that MS Dhoni’s powers appear to be on the wane. And the Sandeep Patil-led committee wanted to have a relook at someone whom they always considered “special”. Yuvraj was dropped from the Indian team after a patchy 21-ball 11 in the World T20 final in Dhaka two years ago. With another World T20 round the corner, the selection panel has decided to fall back on his experience. Yuvraj’s performance in Australia will determine his international future. Manish Pandey is not in the T20 squad, but after the SCG knock, he now provides a serious option.
Ashish Nehra: His inclusion, too, is a big gamble. Nehra is 36 and hasn’t played international cricket for close to five years. In fact, his return attests the team’s bowling vulnerability. This is a smash-and-grab approach with an eye on the World T20. The lack of quality seam-bowling options has forced the selectors to assess the tried and tested. Poor death bowling is a big reason why India have lost four limited-overs series on the bounce under Dhoni’s charge. Mohammed Shami’s absence has rattled the entire bowling unit. Nehra had an excellent IPL last term and contributed immensely to CSK’s march to the final with 22 scalps from 16 matches. After that, however, he featured in only one Vijay Hazare Trophy fixture and two Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy matches. He’s short of game time and it would be a huge challenge for the left-arm quick to hit his straps in international cricket straightaway.
Suresh Raina: After a tally of 68 runs in the five-match home series against South Africa, Raina lost his place in the ODI squad. The T20s, however, give him an opportunity to reassert his presence and prove the selectors wrong. He can set things up, batting up front. He can finish things off at the death. But Raina has to be more consistent.