Funny, how the fate of two players rests on a third one. Dhoni gave the first clear hints that Kohli will play instead of Raina in the first few matches, and that he would occupy the number 4 slot. Dhoni gave some sound reasons for this – Kohli is not your typical ODI slogger like Raina (despite showcasing the destructive side of his batting in the IPL and CLT20). He has been more successful at the top of the order, where he takes time to build his innings and almost always ensures a certain respectability to the team total. Now, with the likes of Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir, Kohli forms the most impressive top order in the World Cup. This will allow the likes of Yuvraj, Dhoni and Pathan to explode towards the latter half of the innings. Raina is unlucky to miss out after hitting some sort of form in the NZ game, but as of now, it is risky to expect an out-of-sorts Yuvraj to shore up the middle order in case of a top order collapse.
Logically, Yuvraj should be the one missing out; but his experience in ICC tournaments and improved bowling pushes him just slightly ahead of Raina. So he will occupy the number 5 slot, where India hope that he will eventually find his groove and put up consistent performances.
Interestingly, that is not the end of the story. Apparently, if Yuvraj regains his form, then he will reclaim the number 4 slot, and Kohli will lose his spot to Raina who will come at number 6 to provide late fireworks. I’m not too sure about this plan, as it would mean that the fate of Raina and Kohli depends on the form of Yuvraj. What if Kohli has had a good World Cup till then, or if by bringing Raina in midway, the dynamics of the team composition is disrupted at a critical time. If Dhoni and Kirsten decide on a certain team composition, they should stick with it unless injury or poor form strikes. It doesn’t make sense, for one man’s good form to cause another in-form player to lose his spot in the playing XI.