On Monday, Rohit Sharma gave a clue. Even so, it was surprising that India did not have Suryakumar Yadav in the starting lineup for the first One-Day International against Sri Lanka at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati. In limited-overs cricket, he is India’s top hitter right now, regardless of Sharma’s attempt to distinguish between T20Is and ODIs on match day.

The India captain had responded to a question about the middle order on Monday by saying: “It is better to have a tremendous headache than not have one. We shall examine who has performed well for us in ODI cricket and the circumstances in which they have performed well. The issue arises when you begin comparing various formats. Simply said, the players who have played well in ODIs will be given a run. Although formats certainly matter, form is crucial.

Shreyas Iyer was preferred over Yadav in the starting lineup on Tuesday, according to Sharma’s direct allusion to ODI statistics. Yes, Yadav has not yet distinguished himself in ODIs as he has in T20Is when he scored 384 runs in 16 games at an average of 32 and a strike rate of 100.52. Iyer, on the other hand, entered Tuesday with 1537 runs at 48.03 and a strike rate of 96 in 39 ODIs.

The biggest argument, though, maybe whether KL Rahul should be included at the expense of Yadav, who is playing well. Rahul’s ODI statistics for 2022 were simply unacceptable: 251 runs in 10 games at an average of 27.88, with a top score of 73. His strike rate has decreased as well, reaching 80.19. Rahul’s bad run of form has crossed forms, yet he still enjoys favor, suggesting that returning to domestic cricket and regaining confidence may be the best course of action.

Ishan Kishan, who scored two centuries in his previous ODI, was left off the team, but India had to include Rahul as he was the only other available wicketkeeper. On Tuesday, Rahul got 39 runs off of 29 balls, which was insufficient to support his recent figures.

Isn’t there a compelling argument to say that Yadav ought to be one of the first names on the team sheet regardless of how the other ten players are distributed? The alleged distinction Sharma attempted to make between ODI and T20I forms is also indicative of India’s attitude. When teams such as England – the leaders in white-ball cricket – are viewing the 50-over format as a longer version of T20s, India faces the risk of being caught in a time warp if they don’t back a batter of Yadav’s caliber.

The greatest sigh of relief must have come from the Sri Lankan bowlers when they realized they were spared Suryakumar’s 360-degree range on such a belter of a wicket. On Saturday in Rajkot during the third T20I, Yadav struck with an aggressive 112* off 51 balls that took your breath away. Does Yadav’s lackluster ODI record so far imply he won’t have an opportunity to improve, given that India has only 14 bilateral ODIs and the Asia Cup left before the World Cup?

If the answer is true, India would be committing the error of having a match-winning player warming the bench for the 50-over World Cup. It wouldn’t be their first selection error at a significant tournament recently either. They may not have won an ICC competition in ten years as a result of this.