Mumbai, Mar 31: Team India and fans suffered a massive jolt in Yuvraj Singh, after the left-handed batter was ruled out of the ongoing World T20 owing to his injured ankle. (Preview: India Vs WI semi-final in Mumbai)
The ICC on Wednesday confirmed that injured Yuvraj Singh would not play in India's crucial semi-final for against West Indies at Wankhede Stadium on Thursday and middle order batsman Manish Pandey has been included as a replacement.
Yuvraj twisted his ankle while batting in the previous match against Australia in Mohali and has been ruled out of further participation in the tournament.
Team India as well as management's biggest concern at this moment is who will replace the left-handed batter, who is also utility spinner. Even in the previous game against Australia, Yuvi bagged the crucial wicket of Steve Smith on the very first delivery he bowled.
Thus, skipper MS Dhoni must be in a catch-22 situation, whether to play Manish Pandey or go with experienced Ajinkya Rahane - who is waiting for his term, or should he show faith in youngster Pawan Negi, who is a perfect replacement to Yuvraj.
With his match-winning century against Australia in the fifth and final ODI at Sydney, Manish Pandey proved his potential of keeping calm and playing under pressure situations.
Even in the IPL, this 26-year-old Karnataka batsman owns a reputation of playing big hits in the T20 format. He has been a destructive middle-order batsman for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL and is known for hitting big sixes. Not to forget he was the first centurian from India in the IPL.
He might have had a forgettable outing in the last T20 International he played against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, but Ajinkya Rahane's potential as a batsman could not be underestimated. The Rajasthan Royals opener owns a reputation of demolishing right-handed batter and being a homeboy he knows the conditions and pitch at Wankhede very well.
Thus, there shouldn't be any doubts if skipper MS Dhoni and Team director Ravi Shastri repose his faith in this middle-order batter in the semi-final match against West Indies.
This million dollar baby for the upcoming IPL 9, could be a perfect replacement to Yuvraj Singh. The left-arm spinner, who is known for hitting big sixes lower down the order, has performed well in the domestic circuit.
But, the spinner has yet not proved his potential on international platform hence it will be worth watching if skipper Dhoni, under whom Negi has played for CSK in the IPL, will script a surprise and gives him a chance. But, Negi has played just one T20I match that too against UAE in the Asia Cup.
The veteran off-spinner could be another option for skipper MS Dhoni. Harbhajan's bowling prowess is hidden to none and everybody is fan of his batting cameos as a lower order batter.
Harbhajan too has an advantage of knowing the pitch conditions at Wankhede as he plays for Mumbai Indians (Wankhede is its homeground) in the IPL.
MS Dhoni's catch 22 situation:
Despite all these options, Indian Team management and skipper Dhoni would be in a state of dilemma over which player they should rely on in the most crucial encounter. Should they go with a specialist batter or go with a young spinner or depend on the able shoulders of Harbhajan Singh.
Well time's not too far, just hold on for a few more hours, when MS Dhoni will finally reveal his Playing XI.