Taunton, Jul 14: India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will face a tough task of opting between Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina for the number five spot in the first Test between India and England in the Lord's next week.
It would be quite a dilemma for Dhoni when he will have to choose either Yuvraj or Raina - both left-handers, both aggressive, both brilliant fielders and both worth a few handy overs of spin.
Raina has been impressive in the Caribbean, where he scored 232 runs at 46.40 with three half-centuries on tracks that Rahul Dravid describe as the most difficult among all he has played in the West Indies in the last 15 years.
On the other hand, Yuvraj Singh showed his brilliance in the World Cup.
While Raina managed to impress no less than legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar in the way he flinched not to one single short-pitched delivery from the West Indian pacemen directed at his torso, Yuvraj can flaunt his statistics that shows seven half-centuries from the last 11 Tests he played and the success he has enjoyed against England with 46-plus average.
Raina can certainly claim that he deserves as much exposure as possible given the wheels of transition have slowly begun to turn in Indian cricket. And there is every reason to keep him battle-hardened and not a dispirited young man when the time comes.
However, Yuvraj, if sidelined now, might not make a comeback and his otherwise glorious career would show just 34 Tests with 1639 runs during a fractured career of 12 years.
Raina can be expected to take on the aggressive off-spin of Graeme Swann like he did to leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo on the first afternoon of Jamaica Test against the West Indies that was a game-changing moment of the three-Test series.
The presence of Yuvraj can make England flinch in the collective might of superstars in the visitors' ranks.
It could take Stuart Broad out of the equation, not just as a bowler but also a batsman as England's lower-half is presently a parody of its top order.
It could be pointed out that Yuvraj has already exhausted the innumerable chances he was given to rehabilitate himself, so it would be unfair if promise alone triumphs over performance.
But Raina, only 22, could meanwhile wait for his turn.
While Raina can be considered the best fielder in the team - equally competent in the deep or in covers as he could be in the slips - Yuvraj presently is the best bet against Kevin Pietersen who has a history of trouble against left-arm spinners.
A dodgy Pietersen will give India a massive advantage and Yuvraj, with his “pie-chuckers”, is the man to have around for such an occasion.
Purely as a batting talent, Yuvraj packs more punch than Raina. He has the experience to regularly scatter the bowling.
The Test spot is something which Raina would want to own badly and Yuvraj would be keen to regain for the remainder of his career.
And Dhoni would have to opt between form and promise.
He must know in his heart that Yuvraj deserves one final decent run. That, if backed now, Yuvraj would respond with vigour to protect India's reputation and Raina would lose nothing if he sits out a series.
Ideally, both should play in the three-day game against Somerset.
If they don't, then one may assume that the skipper has already made up his mind and the world would soon know about it. PTI