8/1/10

Yuvraj Singh's fantastic abilities may enable him to walk into India's ODI team but questions linger over whether he has been able to cement his spot in the Test squad.

Unlike Gautam Gambhir, whose awesome recent record in this format means he can unquestionably take back his opening position from quality replacement Murali Vijay, Raina's debut century at the No. 6 spot has again highlighted Yuvraj's fallibility when it comes to playing Tests.

Yuvraj cannot claim the No. 6 spot as his own yet, so can the in-form Raina, who is coming in for much praise for his attitude and hunger, be dropped to make way for a temperamental but mercurially talented senior batsman who seems fallible against quality spin? Skipper MS Dhoni, clearly, has a conundrum when it comes to picking his choice of southpaw for the third Test, since Yuvraj wasn't dropped on the basis of form but was unwell.

Yuvraj has been unable to rise to stake his claim in the Test arena despite Sourav Ganguly's retirement and questions were raised by certain sections of the cricketing fraternity even before Raina's ton.

Kolkata Knight Riders' coach Dav Whatmore, in particular, had batted for Cheteshwar Pujara, a doughty young batsman with a penchant for big scores but lacking Yuvraj's special flair.

Sri Lanka, the land of freakish spin, was expected to be Yuvi's rite of passage even before he landed here.

He began well, scoring a fluent 118 in the tour game and a battling half-century in the first innings in Galle. In the second innings he flopped, and both occasions he was undone by Muralitharan. Yet it's not what he has done here so far, but what has gone before, which might let him down.

Over the past one year, he averaged 36 from six games but there were no remarkable performances to dispel the doubts over his ability to play a long innings.

He has been plagued by injury too, a ligament tear depriving him of an opportunity to put up some tall scores against Bangladesh.

Raina, in the meantime, fought similar skepticism over his Test-match playing abilities but has gone from strength to strength, coming good when he got the only opportunity to prove a point.

Sachin Tendulkar said he showed a lot of character at the SSC. MS Dhoni, when asked who he would pick, preferred to hedge. "It's a perfect question to ask, which means if I answer it right now there will be four days of coverage. You have to wait till 9.30 on the day of the start of the next Test."