The washed out first T20 against New Zealand means that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni now has one less opportunity to tune up some of the finer aspects of his team’s campaign going into the upcoming World T20 in Sri Lanka, says a report in The Indian Express, adding that the most pertinent among them being calibrating his field placements to ensure optimum performance.
“Especially since Dhoni will be leading a squad, which despite bearing a significant resemblance to five years ago on paper, is now much older and arguably lacks the same vibrancy on the field. Not to forget that the Indian captain has made no bones in the past about his apprehensions of going in with too many senior players in the shorter formats. He had even called them liabilities in terms of his team’s quest in keeping with the `every run you save on the field you gain’ formula for success in T20 cricket,” says the report.
“This format of the game needs a lot of energy and the fielding is very important,” Dhoni has always maintained. Five years ago, with Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly opting out, the man from Ranchi led a team bubbling with youth to South Africa. Many of those names still remain. But age has caught up with the likes of Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir too-all of whom now are on the wrong side of 30.
Meanwhile Hindustan Times report that in his first session with the India team, at nets in Visakhapatnam on Friday, the powerful hitter in Yuvraj Singh was on the money, however, the athletic fielder and the bowler in him remained largely untested.
“Ahead of the World Cup, India's best T20 player has been struggling for some match practice. With just one T20I against New Zealand left on Friday and that too threatened by rain after the Vizag game was washed out, there may not be enough time to test Yuvraj before the team leaves for Sri Lanka,” says HT.
"I haven't seen Yuvi. It depends on the selectors, physios and captain, especially how they've seen him look on the ground. But one thing is for sure, match practice is needed. I remember, even though I'd scored a hundred in the game I broke my nose, I had to play a Ranji game to prove my fitness," says former India all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar.
Madan Lal agrees, but feels that the selectors, team management and Yuvi himself must be aware of his progress. The concern cropped up when Yuvi started getting visibly tired during a warm-up football match on Friday. Prabhakar, however, feels Yuvraj is the champion of the shortest format, so he'll pull it off. "Had it been a five-day game, or even an ODI, he would have definitely needed match-practice."
However, where I think the Indian cricket selectors have been a bit too emotional is drafting Yuvraj back into the T20 squad. After the highs of the ICC World Cup, when Yuvraj was adjudged the man of the tournament, he has spent a long time battling injuries and illness, and has stayed away from cricket since competitive November last year.
Meanwhile a column in Mail Today says that getting his fitness back and being able to rehabilitate and train again at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore are true signs of a champion fighting bravely, however, right now, the euphoria over Yuvraj's return seems to have overtaken the Indian cricket team's overall preparations.
“With the much-awaited T20 match against New Zealand in Visakhapatnam rained out on Saturday, it is now time to look ahead to the second T20 in Chennai. There is no doubt the hype over Yuvraj playing in Chennai will now begin, though it would be in the best interests of the Indian team that people focus on cricket.Given his absence from the cricket field and lack of match practice, Yuvraj will need time to settle down. He has the backing of the BCCI and skipper Dhoni has also said that the team needs to focus on cricket and not get swayed by emotions,” says the column, adding that perhaps, in Indian sport, something of this magnitude is taking place for the first time, where an athlete battles a life-threatening disease and makes a comeback.
“Yet, when you look at the bigger picture, if Yuvraj does well with bat and ball, it will indeed be a triumph of spirit as he has chosen to draw inspiration from the nowdisgraced champion cyclist Lance Armstrong. From the macro perspective, it would be better if the Indian team can focus on its preparation for the ICC World Twenty20 as, in the last two editions, we haven't done well.”