Suryakumar and Tilak Varma
Suryakumar Yadav (left) and Tilak Varma: The Mumbai Indians’ batters were vying for a slot in the Indian middle-order for the World Cup cricket in India. Yadav got the selectors’ nod ahead of Varma. Image Credit: AP & AFP

Suryakumar Yadav is very lucky. That’s been the general sentiment after the Mumbai batter’s selection to the India World Cup cricket squad. Tilak Varma deserved the slot instead, said some former Indian cricketers.

Did Yadav deserve the berth? Did Varma get a raw deal?

Yadav’s batting in Twenty20 games has been phenomenal. His sublime performances in the Indian Premier League were followed by similar displays for India. For all his brilliance in the shortest format, Yadav is yet to crack the 50-over code. His dismal shows in the West Indies attest to that.

So, how did he land a spot in the Indian World Cup squad?

Suryakumar Yadav is a proven talent

There can be no doubts about Yadav’s talent. His audacious shotmaking is indeed a treat. If he can set the stadium alight in T20 matches, the 32-year-old should be able to replicate that in 50-over games. It’s more a question of determination and a shift in approach. Nothing too drastic.

Does Yadav have the temperament to last a 50-over innings? If you had watched his IPL rescue acts for the Mumbai Indians, the answer would be in the affirmative. Forget the last IPL, where he struggled. But in the previous editions, Yadav had repeatedly hauled Mumbai out of the woods with authoritative knocks. Innings where he curbed his aggression to get his eye in before launching a fierce assault in the slog overs.

Those feats give hope that Yadav can also come good in the One-Day Internationals. After all, he has played the longer formats in domestic cricket. With some advice and self-restraint, Yadav can strengthen the middle order. He sure is worth the gamble.

That leaves Varma in the cold. The 20-year-old had pressed his claims with some sterling knocks in the Caribbean, and some of them came in trying circumstances. His tenacity and bravado could have been handy for India in the World Cup. Moreover, he’s a lefthander, which would have served well in the absence of Rishabh Pant.

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He’s young; that must have worked against him. The selectors may have thought that the Hyderabad batter has plenty of time ahead of him, and an India career is a certainty. He can wait, they may have felt while opting for the Yadav. But that would be a poor excuse. Particularly when India attempt to capture the World Cup in their backyard.

Yadav may be experienced, but Varma brings the fearlessness of youth. Yadav is unlikely to figure in the playing XI if KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan are included. He may get a chance if a batter is woefully out of form. In such a circumstance, Varma may have been a better pick. He brings stability and can play the big shots in the slog overs.

Most importantly, Varma would have been a good investment.