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February 21, 2014
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly has said India need spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha in the team to win more Tests overseas, and attributed the losses in New Zealand to the spinners, not the fast bowlers.
"I don't think pacers are a reason for India's defeat," Ganguly told PTI. "But it's our spin department where we're lacking. Dhoni has to think about his spin department. Jadeja has no variation. We also need to bring back Harbhajan Singh. He has good record overseas. Both of them [Harbhajan and Ojha] are a must especially in Test cricket."
Jadeja failed to impress in the two Tests in New Zealand, with three wickets to his name in 89 overs at an average of 85.66. Ashwin, on the other hand, struggled in the five ODIs preceding the Tests, picking only one wicket in 44 overs at an average of 227. Ashwin has an outstanding home record in Tests, but hasn't fared too well overseas, taking nine wickets at 74.77.
Ojha's last Test was the second Test against West Indies in Mumbai, where he took 10 wickets in a Man-of-the-Match performance, and was the second-highest wicket-taker in the series behind Ashwin. However, he did not get a game in the two-Test series in South Africa and was not picked for the subsequent New Zealand Tests.
"I'm highly surprised at Ojha's exclusion," Ganguly said. "He has the ability to take five wickets. If you see his career, he got five wickets in Mumbai on the first day, in the same conditions where Ashwin got three. He has got the variety to take wickets."
Harbhajan last played a Test against Australia in March 2013 and was dropped after the second Test of the four-match series. In the Ranji Trophy this season, he played six matches and picked up 23 wickets at an average of 26.60, including a five-for against Odisha. He also led Rest of India against Karnataka in the Irani Cup.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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