With Yuvraj Singh ruled out due to an ankle injury, the big question is, who will MS Dhoni and Ravi Shastri pick for today's semi-final cracker against West Indies at Wankhede Stadium
One man's misfortune is another's opportunity. The adage couldn't hold truer than in the context of the Indian cricket team at the moment.
Also Read: Rohit, Dhawan and Raina not in 'top' gear
Ajinkya Rahane. Pic/ PTI
A twisted ankle ended Yuvraj Singh's ICC World T20 and it presented an opportunity for Manish Pandey, who was drafted into the squad.
It would logical to pick homeboy Ajinkya Rahane, who knows Wankhede pitch like the back of his hand.
The last time Pandey wore India colours, he hammered a T20-style 104 off just81 balls in the Sydney ODI against Australia which India won by six wickets.
Manish Pandey bats as Team India Director Ravi Shastri looks on during a practice session at Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Another reason why Pandey could pip Rahane to the post is the fact that Rahane is preferred as a top-order batter, while Pandey slots himself better in the middle-order where Yuvraj has left a vacuum.
Yesterday, Team Director Ravi Shastri, chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil, North Zone selector Vikram Rathore, East Zone selector Saba Karim were seen in deep discussion behind the team's nets. At yesterday's net session, Rahane padded up first and was seen taking throw-downs from batting coach Sanjay Bangar at the third net set around the western side of field, near the Vijay Merchant Stand.
Chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil (extreme right) chats with Team Director Ravi Shastri and North Zone selector Vikram Rathore (to Shastri's right) at Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Rahane batted for a good 30 minutes in which he shed his traditional batting image and indulged in some flamboyant T20-style strokes. He then moved over for a fielding session. Pandey meanwhile, batted in both these nets under the watchful eyes of Shastri, who even pulled up a chair to observe his moves carefully.
Pandey batted in all three of the nets that were set up and followed it up with some fielding drills too. Bangar was also seen having a lengthy chat with Pandey Shastri remained non-committal about who would play.
"Pandey has just joined the party only yesterday (Tuesday), so we are yet to decide on who we'll get a chance tomorrow (Thursday). We will observe the nets and then take a call on picking the best person for the job," Shastri said.