In-form Raina could be preferred over Yuvraj
Taunton: More experienced he might be, but Yuvraj Singh could still be forced to make way for an in-form Suresh Raina when India decide their playing XI for the opening cricket Test against England starting July 21 at the Lord`s.
Suresh Raina, also a left-hander but five years younger to Yuvraj, is all set to be rewarded for his consistency and will play on the hallowed turf of Lord` -- an honour that has eluded Yuvraj in his nine-year-old Test career.
Lord`s was the venue of India`s greatest triumph outside World Cup when it chased down a target of 326 set by England in the 2002 Natwest Trophy and in which Yuvraj had played a critical knock of 69 runs.
This innings came within a fortnight of India sinking England at Lord`s by six wickets but even then, Yuvraj had shone brightly with an unbeaten 64.
Yuvraj was India`s hero in India`s triumphant run in recent World Cup with 362 runs at an average of 90.50, to go with his 15 wickets at 25.13 average.
Raina, meanwhile, has worked hard to usurp the middle-order batting slot including the revised impression that he was a sitting duck against short-pitched deliveries.
The lifting deliveries had threatened to put a pause to Raina`s nascent Test career when he was dropped for the remaining two Tests against South Africa after making 5 and 1 from the two innings of the Centurion Test in the 2010-2011 series.
His career so far has been in contrast to the one of Yuvraj. While he has made the most of his opportunity, Yuvraj has squandered most of his even though the latter is widely regarded as more talented of the two left-handers.
To be fair, Yuvraj never really got a decent Test run, except for nine Tests in 2006 when he made meager returns of 391 runs with just one century and no half century.
Misfortune hasn`t helped Yuvraj for it was his flu which provided Raina with a Test debut in Sri Lanka last year.
Recently, it was a respiratory problem which stopped him from going to the Caribbean, preceding the present series.
Yuvraj`s fine record of 276 runs from four Tests at an average of 46.00 against England hasn`t added to argument in his favour because all these matches were played at home.
His left-arm spin is considered a potent threat against England`s impact player Kevin Pietersen but it`s deemed as an additional virtue and not the primary one of weighing in with runs.