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'Harbhajan, Ojha must in Tests' - Ganguly

ESPNcricinfo staff

February 21, 2014

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Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh had a tough day, Sri Lanka v India, 2nd Test, SSC, 1st day, July 26, 2010
India need spinners Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh to win more Tests overseas, says Sourav Ganguly © Live Images
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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.

Posted by AravindVatsal82 on (February 25, 2014, 11:46 GMT)

I partially agree with sourav, team india need genuine spinner who can turn the ball of the turf,ideally ojha would be better prospect if he plays enough,with jadeja on the other hand has evolved as a supporting bowler holding other end he is less a batsman,but with this combination team dhawan,vijay,pujara,kholi,rahane,ishant,shami,3rd seemer-need lott of nurturing(Zaheer fitness).spinner jadeja,Ojha & wc dhoni if he is captain OR karthik... cons:sharma needs lot of match practice to prove @ test level & which position he is more comfortable with,a genuine all rounder to fit ideally in the fast bowler slot would help @ overseas conditions..picking 5 bowlers is must to get 20 wkt,considering the series in aus & Eng,,,for me Harbhajan has finished his good spells with india keeping in mind the future of INDIAN test Team & to retain No 1 position for long time.

Posted by Naresh28 on (February 24, 2014, 13:31 GMT)

Its GOOD that there is some level of debate on combinations in the bowling department. Lets NOT FORGET that there are some loopholes in the BATTING as well. Clearly the majority of fans are saying that if the last four test team selections are failing it is time to ring in the changes. We are losing in the TEST matches so the focus should be here. Some players are only suited to the shorter versions. Its also GOOD that now we have ex-cricketers, writers, fans - all calling for changes. NOW its upto BCCI, selectors and team management to get things going again.

Posted by rnkbornfree on (February 23, 2014, 19:28 GMT)

i agree with him but ojha should be given more chances as in he is even better then ashwin in india and senior players like sehwag,gambhir and zaheer should have full support from bcci as in players like rohit,rahane,dhawan play well in patches after champions throphy they never performed well and jadeja ashwin dont fit for test and odis they are t20 material and ishant sharma should play more ranjis as in his line and length is never right he is just lucky at times to get wickets umesh yadav ,aron,kamran khan should be given chances...They are not helping kamran khan who played major role for RR in ipl warne picked him and he performed but bcci dont want to see this players

Posted by   on (February 23, 2014, 3:28 GMT)

In the history of indian cricket this is the first time it is happening that a captain's decision is being considered as more weight during selection process finally we are ending up with selecting all the players from ipl chennai team and by doing so we are ending up the career of all good players like yuvi, shewag, gambhir, Pathan etc. something is messing up here no seniors are allowed into the team this question should have been asked.

Posted by x_lnc on (February 22, 2014, 17:09 GMT)

Mr. Ganguly Ojha is ok but not Harbhajan anymore

Posted by thinkgood on (February 22, 2014, 15:00 GMT)

Dada is wrong. Ojha and Bhajji - just as Rohit Sharma have become IPL-only performers. They have become professionals whose eyes are on money now. We need younger talent in all department of the game - batting, bowling (pace and spin) and middle order all rounders. Jadeja was taken ahead of Ojha because of jaddu's ability to bat better than Ojha. That comes in handy. But Jadeja, M Vijay , Ishant and R Sharma are not capitalizing on their captains faith in them. They seem to be taking their place in the playing XI for granted. That is bad. Bhajji and Ojha are in a different league now. They are NOT in the mood to play for the country anymore.IPL has sucked them in just as it did with R Sharma,Gambhir , Sehwag and Zaheer.

Posted by cric_gates on (February 22, 2014, 14:17 GMT)

Dada is absolutely right. See!! what Lyon is doing for Aus. We need spin bowlers who can complement our fast bowlers by taking wickets when they are tired.India did well overseas in last decade because of this. Not completely relying on our fast bowlers.Dhoni must undetstand this and must bring Bhajji and Ojha. Check Bhajji records in SA in 2010 tours.I am totally disappointed with Aswinl.Some of us had criticized Zak for playing casually and throwing his wicket. Can any one explain me role of Jadeja who have 3 triple domestic centuries to his name and threw his wicket in both the test agaist Nz.

Posted by   on (February 22, 2014, 13:28 GMT)

What DADA says makes lots of sense. Indian fast bowlers have not been the killers in past and even the current pacers are not that efficient. In past spinners have proved more successful. Non-Asian teams have weakness against spin. For Indian team to play matches without a recognised spinner is absurd . This is a hard way to learn what is obvious.

Posted by   on (February 22, 2014, 13:11 GMT)

Sourav is right in suggesting Ojha's inclusion .We wonder as to why the Team Mgt needs to be given the luxury of Reserve players at all,just only to warm the benches in the dug yard! Ojha was under-utilised compared to his proven potentials.

But I differ with Dada on his views to include Bhajji.His lacklustre performances in the chances as provided to him in Competitive Cricket, before his exclusion does not warrant his inclusion now.To me Bhajji is just a spent force as of now and doesn't have the steam to grab wickets !Captaining a Team in the Irani Trophy is not an automatic norm for selection in Team India.

Dada was vehement in AshokDinda's inclusion in the Shorter format for quite sometime, but now seem to have reconciled quite sensibly.Even Dinda was showered with accolades by his Coach in Allan Donald for Pune Warriors in IPL,but his economy itself spoke for him.

So let Selection Criteria be based on only Merit & Merit only and someone resting on past Laurels be discouraged !

Posted by sreehk on (February 22, 2014, 6:48 GMT)

Ojha's exclusion is nothing short of a pure conspiracy. Which captain drops his bowler who has taken 10 wickets and was MOM in previous match? Who decides these things? Why should these decisions be dependent only on one person? How do we know things are transparent and how on earth could explain dropping Ojha? With so much of politics around, Dhoni has clearly abused the power to favor people who share his business interests and loyal lobbies. Team selection for every match should involve Captain, Vice-captain, Coach, and Chief selector. This way it brings a rational approach to selections and ensures that no individual is favored and is given undue advantage. Dhoni has ruined careers of Pathan brothers, Yuvraj, Sehwag, and Mishra. Dhoni himself has batted often at 7, where he can come and play the "martyr" innings in a defeat, which is deceptively heroic. Dhoni should be SACKED!

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