What's the story?
Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina's omission from the limited-overs squad to face Sri Lanka was due to their failure to clear the 'Yo-Yo' endurance test at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
Among the series of fitness Tests that Indian players often undergo is the 'Yo-Yo' endurance test, which is considered to be among the most important. For the current Indian team, the acceptable score is 19.5 and above. While Virat Kohli scored around 21, both Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina scored well below the mark, with Yuvraj just barely managing to cross 16.
A BCCI official told PTI: "On an average, the Australian cricketers score 21 in Yo-Yo test. Here Virat, Ravindra Jadeja, Manish Pandey regularly hit that score while others are either touching 19.5 or is hitting above that score."
Before adding, "The current team think tank, coach Ravi Shastri, skipper Virat Kohli and chairman of selectors MSK Prasad have made it clear that fitness standards are non-negotiable."
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The test is used to determine the fitness levels and is an advanced version of the 'beep' test. 20 metres apart, two lines are marked and cones placed. With one foot behind one of the two lines, the player starts running from one line to another. After every minute, the pace gets quicker and if the player doesn't reach the line in time, he has to catch up within two more beeps. If he fails to catch up within two ends, then he fails.
While Indian teams of the past were picked purely based on talent, with the current squad, the emphasis is more on fitness too. And that is evident in the benchmark that is being set for the squad. Despite being two of India's best fielders, both Yuvraj and Raina failed to clear the current benchmark.
As the official explained, "In an earlier era, when the traditional beep test was in vogue, the Indian players of the 1990's would have scored around 16 to 16.5 barring a few like Mohammed Azharuddin, Robin Singh or Ajay Jadeja. But now it's different as the skipper himself is hitting the benchmark, which the Australian cricket team sets it".
With several key players being rested for the ODI series against Sri Lanka, it will be interesting to see the combination that India goes with after whitewashing Sri Lanka 3-0 in the Test series. Fitness seems to be the top priority and the selection of a younger side indicates the step in a new direction ahead of the ODI series that begins on August 20.
From the chairman of selectors, the coach Ravi Shastri to the captain Virat Kohli, everyone has stressed the importance of fitness and the need to be the fittest side in the world going into the 2019 World Cup. The fact that neither Raina nor Yuvraj managed to clear the fitness parameters set does not bode well for their respective futures.
While the 30-year-old Raina, who has been proving his fitness in the Netherlands, still has time on his side and could get fitter and get into the side, the signs look ominous for the 35-year-old Yuvraj, who might have played his last match for India, even if the chairman of selectors said that he was rested for the Sri Lanka series and not dropped.