Will Yusuf Pathan stake his claim?

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Published: Friday, December 3, 2010, 15:45 [IST]
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Will Yusuf Pathan stake his claim?

From the authoritative way India played in the first two one-dayers against New Zealand, it seems likely to wrap up the series in the next game itself. The focus therefore, has shifted from who will win the series to which players in the Indian will make it to the World Cup squad. Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin and Sreesanth have been successful enough to warrant a place in the team, but now the spotlight falls on Yusuf Pathan.

Pathan will be hoping he gets ample opportunity in the next three games to dazzle the selectors. With Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag all set to return to the one-day side and with Kohli in the devastating form he is in, Yusuf might just be overlooked. In fact, if anything, he might find himself in a race with Yuvraj Singh for the allrounder's spot.

But Yuvraj holds quite an edge over Pathan with regard to both the experience and figures' factors. Yuvraj bears a batting average of 36.94 with 12 centuries to his name from 257 matches, while Pathan's efforts come in way lower with a 22.50 average. In terms of bowling, Yuvraj's average of 40.37 is just a shade below Yusuf's 40.95.

One would like to see Yusuf succeed and edge his way into the World Cup side. The flat wickets on the itinerary of the big tournament are perfectly conducive for him to unleash his brutal power. But he hasn't had too promising a past season with the Indian Premier League, having struggled against the short ball. But the time for Yusuf to show his mettle has arrived. Will he rise to the occasion?

New Zealand is immersed in quite a quandary after their poor showing in the series so far. The Kiwis can well do with a re-think of the batting line-up. They badly need someone to bolster up their brittle and innocuous top-order, with regard to which, Taylor might finding himself in an opener's slot or at No. 3. After the series, when Brendam McCullum and Jesse Ryder recover from their injuries, where will they fit in? Will Styris and Williamson be retained in the middle order?

Meanwhile, Guptill who gets starts but combusts soon after, will need to add a dynamic of stability to his game. In the bowling department, captain Daniel Vettori seems to be the only bowler who can perform consistently and effectively. He will no doubt be looking to his younger team-mates for some support. But the signs so far are not very encouraging.

Indeed, going into the third one-dayer at Vadodara, New Zealand would be hoping to keep the series alive. But it seems that India are holding all the cards. Will New Zealand have an ace up it's sleeve? Will it throw down a straight flush or a full house to turn the tables on India. The moment of truth awaits.


New Zealand (probable): 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Ross Taylor, 4 Scott Styris, 5 Kane Williamson, 6 Grant Elliott / James Franklin, 7 Daniel Vettori (capt), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Andy McKay

India (probable): 1 M Vijay, 2 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Saurabh Tiwary/ Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Wriddiman Saha (wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Ashish Nehra/Munaf Patel


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