Suresh Raina or Yuvraj Singh: Who will get to replace Laxman at No. 6?

rainayuvitest290England cricket team is in India and one can expect some grueling cricket for the next two months. England and India will play four Test matches, two T20s and five match one-day series. But it is the Test series which is drawing maximum attention as it will be the first tough series that India will be playing after the retirement of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

Though it would be impossible to replace Dravid and Laxman at No. 3 and No. 6, however the success of Cheteshwar Pujara against New Zealand has given India some respite as he is a sure shot in India’s line-up for Dravid’s place.

Apart from the number six position, all the other spots are almost certain, with Sehwag and Gambhir certain to open the innings, while Sachin as always will be there at number four followed by Virat Kohli. Indian captain MS Dhoni will take the number seven position followed by R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav. This is most likelihood will be the Indian line-up for the first Test.

However, it’s the No. 6 position that’s still for grab and the performance of the players in the ongoing warm-up match against England in Mumbai will play a decisive role.

There are a few players fighting for the spot, but all eyes are on India A skipper Suresh Raina and comeback man Yuvraj Singh, though Manoj Tiwary too with his gritty knock of 93 on the first day of the three-day practice match has made his intentions clear. However, Yuvraj and Raina have been genuine match winners for India in ODIs and T20s and their experience give them an edge.
Let’s have a look at some of the things that these two players bring to the table:

Fearless batting: Both players are attacking in nature and always look to dominate the opposition bowlers. Their natural instinct is to score runs and that reflects in their career strike-rate. Both players have the ability to take the attack to the opposition, even when the team has lost early wickets. Batting at number six means that a batsman will have to bat with the tail-enders and for that one need big shots which the two players can hit.

Exciting on the field: A team do need good fielders, no matter what format it is and both these players are terrific on the field. Raina is a livewire and can change the complexion of the game with his fielding, while Yuvraj is an experienced player. He is not as quick as he used to be, but the man has the ability to produce some magical moments in the field. However in present circumstances, Raina is a better fielder than Yuvraj.

Handy with the ball: This is an added advantage with these players as they are more than handy with the ball. The tracks will definitely help the spinners and India will need a third spinner. Yuvraj beats Raina when it comes to bowling because he has been terrific in the recent times. He was the leading wicket-taker from India in the recently concluded T20 World Cup and he has a history with Kevin Pietersen which can light up if Yuvraj is selected.
Here are a few reasons why the two have struggled in Test matches:

Struggle against the short pitch deliveries: Indian players have always been tested with the short ball and both these players have failed to negotiate the delivery especially in the longer formats. Both players like to attack the ball but do not have a proper technique of playing the hook shot. The problem is not much when playing in the sub-continent but outside they have always struggled. It can be said that Yuvraj plays the delivery a bit better than Raina.

Problem against spinners: One never really relates this problem to the Indian players as they are considered to be the best players against spin bowling. But this is not the case with these two batsmen. Both batsmen have got out a number of times against the spinners and have always looked frustrated with all the close-in fielders. Raina struggled to pick Graeme Swann in the English series and will once again be tested if he plays.
Having said all this, both players are equally talented and it will be very hard for the selectors and the team management to pick one out of the two. But Yuvraj Singh might get an edge as his comeback to cricket has been amazing and making it to the Test team will be incredible for him. His average of 34.8 is a lot better than Raina’s 28.4.

Apart from that, Yuvraj has looked in great touch. He made an incredible 208 in Duleep Trophy where his stay on the crease was for 333 minutes. Even in the first innings of the practice game Yuvraj scored 59 and looked good in his innings. Raina, who scored 20, looked itchy in his approach. Raina got a golden opportunity against the Kiwis but he ruined it and that might come back to haunt this talented lad.       
By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News