Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane and Pawan Negi will vie for the place left open by the injury to Yuvraj Singh as India get ready to face the West Indies in the ICC World T20 2016 semifinal at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Yuvraj was ruled out of the tournament with an ankle injury, forcing MS Dhoni to finally make a change to his playing XI.
The India skipper is not someone who likes to change his team around or go the horses for courses way. If a team is settled and are doing reasonably well, Dhoni rarely sees the upside in making changes. However, the India skipper and the team management have little choice now, following Yuvraj's injury, with Pandey replacing the left-handed veteran in the 15-man squad.
Rahane has been a part of the side since the start of the tournament, but he is yet to play a single game. The right-hander is at his best in T20s opening the innings, and since Dhoni seems reluctant to drop Shikhar Dhawan, despite the left-hander's woeful form, if the Mumbaikar is picked, he will probably have to bat at No.4 or No.5.
Pandey is definitely the better option to bat at that position, leaving Dhoni and Ravi Shastri with a difficult choice to make. "We've not decided because Manish has just joined the party," Shastri was quoted as saying by TOI. "We'll take a good look at everything in the nets and see what our best options will be for the game. We'll have to keep those overs in mind."
Those overs that Shastri is talking about is Yuvraj's bowling ability. The left-armer did quite well against Australia, bowling three crucial overs while also picking up the big wicket of Steve Smith. Rahane and Pandey are just batsmen, who will not roll their arms over.
This is where Negi could come in. The all-rounder can bowl his full quota of four overs if required and he can smash the ball out of the park too towards the end of the innings.
The problem, though, is that bringing Negi in will weaken the India batting further. The batting has been a big disappointment in this World T20 so far, and the last thing Dhoni will want is to weaken it a little bit more, making the inclusion of either Pandey or Rahane more likely. Yuvraj, after all, only bowled in the final Super 10 match against Australia, which suggests India might be able to cope without an extra bowling option.
However, the extra bowling issue might crop up if one of the usual bowlers is carted around. That is quite possible too, considering the Wankhede has been, by a country mile, the best wicket to bat on in this World T20. With runs set to be the order of the day, Dhoni might decide having as many bowling options as possible is the way to go.
West Indies also had a player ruled out of the WT20 because of injury, after Andre Fletcher picked up a hamstring problem. Lendl Simmons is the replacement, and the Mumbai Indians man is likely to go right in and play in this semifinal.
Expected lineups: India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah.
West Indies: Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy, Carlos Brathwaite, Sulieman Benn, Samuel Badree.