Manish Pandey (Above) was called in as cover for the injured Yuvraj Singh © Getty Images
Manish Pandey (Above) was called in as cover for the injured Yuvraj Singh © Getty Images

Yuvraj Singh‘s absence no doubt will be a big blow for India going into the knockout stages of the T20 World Cup 2016. Manish Pandey was called in a late replacement for Yuvraj and should ideally be included in the playing XI for the second semi-final against West Indies, which is being played in Mumbai on Thursday. There is a case of Ajinkya Rahane in the side, but in his limited chances in the recent past, he has not been particularly impressive. Pandey on the other hand is a well-seasoned player, with a lot of experience in First-Class cricket for Karnataka, where he has scored heavily. Full Scorecard: India vs West Indies, ICC World T20 2016, 2nd semi-final at Mumbai

With over 5,000 runs in First-Class cricket, Pandey has a wealth of experience he brings to the team. In his last international match, he made a match-winning century for India against Australia at Sydney. He looked a part and absorbed the pressure incredibly well to guide India  to their only win in the One-Day International (ODI) series.

Pandey is no mug with the bat when it comes to the shortest format as well. He has played just a couple of T20 Internationals (T20I), in which he did not impress. But the 26-year old could be a long term solution for India, especially with Yuvraj’s future in international cricket still unsure after the T20 World Cup. READ: India vs West Indies, T20 World Cup 2016 semi-final at Mumbai: Preview

Of late we have also seen many players making the cut in the national squad based on the Indian Premier League (IPL) experience. He scored a swashbuckling in IPL 2009 in South Africa in the final group stage match and followed it up with a crucial 48 in the semi-final — both in a winning cause.  Also his 94 at No.3 for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the final of IPL 2014, helped his team chase down 200.

He saves his best for the crucial matches and the semi-final of the T20 World Cup will perhaps the most important match of his career. Rahane on the other hand could be an ideal replacement for one of the openers, who have not fired in this tournament at all. But if it comes to replacing someone in the middle-order, it has to be Pandey. READ: Yuvraj Singh ruled out of T20 World Cup 2016; Manish Pandey added to India squad

MS Dhoni will also miss Yuvraj’s services with the ball. He has the knack of picking up crucial wickets for the team, just like he got rid of Australia skipper Steven Smith off the very first ball of his spell. But India will have to move on and hope that they make the right decision when it comes to replacing him in this crucial match. Pandey should be the perfect player to replace Yuvraj at No.4 or No.5.

(Pramod Ananth is a reporter at CricketCountry. He has represented Karnataka table tennis under-15, and is a hardcore supporter of Liverpool FC. His Twitter handle is @pramz)