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India vs England - The Curious Case Of Suryakumar Yadav's Omission

Suryakumar Yadav was dropped from the Indian XI for the third T20I without facing a ball on debut in the previous encounter. Was this fair on the Mumbai Indians batsman who has had three prolific seasons with the franchise?

India vs England - The Curious Case Of Suryakumar Yadav's Omission

While Ishan Kishan made the headlines for his match-winning 56 off just 32 deliveries the other debutant in the match – the second T20I between India and England in Ahmedabad – did not get a chance to express himself with the bat as the home team levelled the five-match series with a crushing seven-wicket victory. Yet, strangely enough Suryakumar Yadav was dropped from the XI for the very next match as the ace opener Rohit Sharma made a comeback at the top of the order. But was it a wise decision to drop the Mumbai Indians star without giving him a try given there are only limited opportunities available to find the best combination before the 2021 World T20 in October? Has Virat Kohli set a bad precedence by sticking on to certain out-of-form players at the cost of a newcomer?

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Yadav was one of the most prolific batsmen in IPL 2020 and scored big runs at critical junctures for his team at a very high strike rate. He aggregated 480 runs in 15 matches at an average of 40 but more significantly a strike rate of 145.01. His exploits included 4 fifties. Only AB de Villiers and Ishan Kishan had a higher scoring rate amongst the 10 highest run-getters of the tournament.

Yadav has been in tremendous form for Mumbai Indians in the last three seasons. He scored 424 runs at a strike rate of 130.86 in 2019 and 512 runs at a strike rate of 133.33 in 2018. This season (in 2020) he added that extra firepower in his batting and for the very first time unleashed his destructive version in the tournament. A call up to the national side, which has been highly due, finally came about in the England series. But even after making his debut and without facing a ball in the series, Yadav may have to warm the bench for the remaining two matches. Not fair, yes but this is top-level international cricket – it is tough and competitive and sitting out should only increase the hunger in Yadav to play for the country.

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The Indian captain Virat Kohli and batting coach Vikram Rathour have backed the out of form KL Rahul stating that he is the number one choice to accompany Rohit Sharma at the top of the order. Rahul has had three big failures in the current series having been dismissed for 1, 0 and 0 playing a total of just 14 deliveries in these matches. He was also dismissed for a duck in his last match prior to the start of the England series – against Australia in Sydney in December last year. Three ducks in the last four innings of a format in competitive international cricket will mean at least a reprimand or a break for a couple of matches for most players but Rahul seems to have his position safely sealed in the XI.

Maybe for good reason too. Rahul has been one of the best top-order batsmen in the world in T20 cricket. He has not only been a run-machine for India but also for his franchise Kings XI Punjab during the last three seasons. Even after his recent failures, Rahul’s record since 2019 is quite impressive. He has an aggregate of 761 runs in 22 matches at an average of 38.05 and strike rate of 138.11 including 8 fifties. He was the highest scorer of IPL 2020 and has the highest aggregate in the last three seasons of the tournament.

There is also no doubting his prodigious talent across formats. Rahul is a gifted player with all the shots in the book who can tear apart any bowling attack in the world on his day. Such phenomenal has been his consistency in T20 cricket over the last three years that the current phase of binary scoring has been overlooked by the captain and batting coach as a minor blip in the larger scheme of things.

Dropping Rahul may further dent his low confidence and Kohli and co. may not want to do that. Yes, he cannot take his place for granted whatever he may have done in the past and the Indian captain along with Ravi Shastri would have definitely laid down the team’s expectations from the stylish opener.

So where does this leave Suryakumar Yadav? Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir has criticised his exclusion from the XI without testing the middle-order batsman. But with the captain fully backing Rahul the only place for Yadav in the XI can be in place of Shreyas Iyer in the middle order. The selectors have already tried and tested Iyer at the international level. Maybe giving him a break for the last couple of matches and getting in Yadav will not be such a bad ploy. Or will the Indian think tank surprise everyone and rest Rahul for the last two matches and get back Yadav in the middle order?

If not, Yadav may need to deliver for the fourth straight season in the IPL to be again considered worthy of a blue jersey.

Team Rankings

1 Australia 3028 116
2 New Zealand 2406 115
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
5 Sri Lanka 2454 91
FULL Ranking
1 England 5405 123
2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
FULL Ranking
1 England 6877 275
2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
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