Yuvraj innings gives Dhoni confidence in middle order

Yuvraj Singh relived the images that defined his class as a batsman when he took on the Sri Lankan bowling with the panache of a conquistador and put India in the final of the Asia Cup T20 on Tuesday.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been backing Yuvraj for the No. 5 spot in the batting order ever since he got back in the side in January.   -  AP

Yuvraj Singh relived the images that defined his class as a batsman when he took on the Sri Lankan bowling with the panache of a conquistador and put India in the final of the Asia Cup T20 on Tuesday. As India searched for a name in the middle who could match the finesse and efficiency of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj answered that call with a quick-fire 35 (18 balls), which included hit over the fence. Interestingly, Yuvraj’s flourish came in company of Kohli, who anchored India’s win with an unbeaten 56.

Among the many expressing their happiness on this effort was his captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has been backing Yuvraj for the No. 5 spot in the batting order ever since he got back in the side in January.

“I have already told that the more time he (Yuvraj) gets, the better it is for him. When you return to international cricket then there is a lot of pressure from yourself and there are people’s expectations as well. I felt that his approach has always been very good. He gives himself two or three balls before playing the big shot,” Dhoni said, justifying his decision to back Yuvraj. “You saw today, he is someone who can hit sixes at will. So, if the same thing continues gradually, he will be in a very good position before the World Cup (ICC Twenty20),” was how the Indian captain read into Yuvraj’s spectacular effort.

Team balance

Yuvraj’s effort made the Indian captain more comfortable about the balance in the side. Looking at the format of the game with an eye on the upcoming World Cup, Dhoni has many reasons to feel secure with the bowling where Ashis Nahra, Jasprit Bumrah, R. Ashwin and Hardik Pandya have been delivering. “If you are bowling well, you can carry it into your batting. If you are batting well, you can carry it into your bowling. That’s the reason why the team is looking more balanced. Looking at the conditions, you have three fast bowlers and spinners. Then you include two part-timers if needed. So it looks a good bunch of players, ideally suited for the conditions,” Dhoni said after notching three successive wins and an overall eight wins in nine matches in two months.

India takes on qualifier United Arab Emirates on Thursday in the last match league match of the Asia Cup here at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, where the Indian captain will have the liberty of using the reserves. Dhoni has been insisting on rotating the side to have a fair measure of his side’s strength. The match ahead of the final offers him the opportunity. “We will definitely make a few changes in the coming games. We still want the strength and the composition of the side to be very good.” The Indian skipper did not wish the change to come just for the sake of it. “I think most of the players will definitely get a chance in the next game. Whether all the people who are sitting outside will get a chance, we’re not sure. But we will try to make as many changes as possible,” he said. This could mean giving all rounder and left-arm spinner Pawan Negi a possible debut while also giving chance to the likes of spinner Harbhajan Singh and pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who have been not been tried so far. Ajinkya Rahane has played one match, not so successfully against Pakistan, when he replaced an injured Shikhar Dhawan as opener.