India A would have been extremely disappointed to have lost the short one-day series against a depleted West Indies A side, but they would have been equally pleased to have finished the series on a high with crushing win in the one-off T20 match. It was India A’s batting that clinched the game for them. The openers Robin Uthappa and Unmukt Chand gave them a blistering start following which Yuvraj Singh and Kedar Jadhav also played smashing knocks to take them to a match-winning total in spite of Andre Russell’s burst of four wickets in four balls towards the end.
With the ball as well, India A were on top of their game. Legspinner Rahul Sharma’s match-winning performance was the biggest gain for the hosts from the match. He puzzled most of the inexperienced West Indian batsmen on way to his five-for. Following all his struggles and controversies for being caught in a rave party, Sharma would be pleased to make news for the right reasons. The best way a cricketer can win his credentials back is by performing well out on the middle, and Sharma must continue in his endeavour to excel.
The brightest spot for India A was undoubtedly the form of their skipper Yuvraj Singh. The experienced left-hander has had to fight a really long battle with cancer and his form and fitness following the detection of the dreadful disease after the 2011 World Cup win. His premature comeback into the national side expectedly did not work, and he was axed once again. To his credit, Singh went back to the drawing room, and his and Zaheer Khan’s decision to go and train hard in France away from the media and fans’ glare was a smart one.
His impressive performance against West Indies A was a good indication of the fact that Singh is getting back towards his best. Of course, too much cannot be read against his effort against an A team, but it was a positive nonetheless. Had he failed, the worries for Indian selectors owing to his form and fitness would have increased. Now that he has done so exceptionally well leading the team against West Indies A, it would be impossible for the selectors to ignore his form while choosing the side for the main West Indies series. It will then be up to Singh to grab his deserved chance.
One wonders whether Singh will get another chance to resurrect his Test career, but in one-dayers and T20s, an in-form Singh is an automatic choice. In his absence, Ravindra Jadeja has filled in the slot of the all-rounder exceptionally well recently. But if India can slot in both Jadeja and Singh into the playing eleven, it would make the team doubly potent. Remember, while Jadeja is more of a bowling all-rounder, Singh is more lethal with the bat. If Yuvraj finds his groove back, and hopefully he will soon, there is no way his talent can be ignored.
--By A Cricket Analyst