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India vs South Africa 2013: Yuvraj, Raina’s continued poor form is a grave concern for India

Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina need to pick their game up, and fast © Getty Images
Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina need to pick their game up, and fast © Getty Images

 

The Indian batting faced a serious test in the first One Day International (ODI) against South Africa in Johannesburg. They failed miserably as a unit, chasing an imposing total against a fantastic bowling unit. But history shows that India will sort out their batting sooner, rather than later. What they have to sort out first is the continuing poor form of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. Shrikant Shankar has more…

 

South Africa set a humongous 359-run target for India in the first One-Day International (ODI) in Johannesburg. After seeing India chase down similar and bigger targets against Australia recently, one would have expected a good fight. But the conditions in South Africa are  different to what one gets to see in India, and the opposition bowling attack is one of the best going around in modern day cricket. Eventually, India were bundled out for 217, and hence lost by 141 runs.

 

This could be a worry for India in the remainder of the tour. But one should not fret on India’s batting too much, especially in the limited-overs formats. It will come good more often than not. What is worrying is the poor form of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. While Yuvraj has been on a bad run, Raina’s ability and technique on foreign conditions will always be a cause for concern.

 

Yuvraj has scored one half-century in his last 12 innings. He also has four ducks against his name in that same period. On the other end, Raina has one score above 50 in his last 20 innings. What is most surprising about Raina is that he has struggled off late in Indian conditions. He did not have the best of series against Australia and West Indies  as well. It is important for the Indian team management to try out other options, as there is still some time left before the 2015 ICC World Cup.

 

The ICC Champions Trophy 2013 was won without Yuvraj. If he is in form, Yuvraj is India’s best match-winner in ODIs. Another thing is that he is not bowling that often these days. It was his bowling as much as his batting and fielding that was key  to India’s  success in ICC World Cup 2011. And he is not the best fielder anymore in the Indian team either.

 

In Raina’s situation, he is still one of the best fielders in the side, and his bowling seems to be more consistent, of late. But he is, first and foremost, a batsman and needs to score runs. Raina has been promoted higher up the order to see whether he can make better use of his extraordinary hitting abilities later in the innings. But the fact is that he has been getting out cheaply and that means he hasn’t been able to see India’s innings through during the crucial end overs.

Despite the recent shortcomings, Raina will most likely be there in the Indian squad for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The reason being, Raina might be better off slightly lower down the order. But a big concern is his technique on bouncy pitches. Australian pitches will have that extra bounce on offer, and Raina may be found wanting,Down Under.

 

Yuvraj’s inclusion is not yet assured for the World Cup in 2015. His inclusion is not assured even for India’s next assignment in New Zealand. So, if Yuvraj has to be in the side, he needs to   be consistent. India have other options with the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Ajinkya Rahane and even Cheteshwar Pujara to come into the middle-order. Tactical and personnel changes have to be made, if India are to find out the right combinations  going into the 2015 World Cup. And for that, preparations have to start immediately.

 

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)

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