Matches (20)
T20 World Cup (6)
CE Cup (4)
T20 Blast (10)
News

Harbhajan Singh wants Suryakumar Yadav in India's World Cup playing XI

"What he can do at that position, neither Virat can do, nor Sanju or Rohit Sharma"

Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh feels Suryakumar Yadav should be in the starting XI come the World Cup because he can do in his role what even Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma can't.
Harbhajan feels the selectors and team management were right to pick Suryakumar in the World Cup squad ahead of Sanju Samson, who was also in the running for a middle-order role for India.
"I feel Suryakumar Yadav is a complete, complete player," Harbhajan said in a chat organised by Star Sports. "I don't think the selectors have been harsh on Sanju Samson. I do feel Sanju is a very very good player, a quality player. But you can only select fifteen players. But picking Suryakumar over Sanju is the right call.
"Because the game that Suryakumar has in the middle over[s], I don't think Sanju has that game. Even he goes for big shots from the first ball, but the reliability Suryakumar gives you - he can score big. Sanju I feel plays the kind of cricket where there is a lot of chances that you get out. Whereas Suryakumar, I know a lot of people ask what has he done in ODIs, but what he has done in T20s, if his innings is only going to be that long then I feel in that position, there isn't a better player than Suryakumar in India.
"What he can do at that position, neither Virat [Kohli] can do, nor Sanju or Rohit Sharma. Because what he does it's a difficult job, batting at [No.] 5-6. What [MS] Dhoni has done, what Yuvi [Yuvraj Singh] has done."
So far in his career, Suryakumar hasn't found a way to translate his success in T20 cricket into the 50-overs format - an issue he has himself acknowledged. He averages 24.33 in ODIs, with only two half-centuries in 24 innings.
Harbhajan, however, feels Suryakumar has the game to shine in the challenging middle-order role in ODIs.
"Because batting there is the toughest," Harbhajan said. "Opening in [one-dayers], you know where to score runs. You have a lot of time. But when you go in to bat after 20-25 overs, you need the game to know where you can find gaps to get boundaries and I don't think anyone in the Indian team can do that better than Suryakumar. And if it was up to me, I would play him in the team. Because when he is in the team, it increases the pressure on the opposition. Whether he fires or not. Because till the time he is at the crease, there will be pressure because on any day he can play a match-winning innings. He can hit 50-60 runs in 20 balls.
"So you have to play a player like this. You can't waste him by keeping him out. So that ends the debate on whether Sanju should be in the team ahead of Suryakumar or not. Whether Sanju is in the team or not, Suryakumar Yadav should be in the XI."

Arshdeep Singh and Yuzvendra Chahal - India's two big misses?

Harbhajan also feels India should have picked left-arm fast bowler Arshdeep Singh for the variety he brings to the pace attack, as well as legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal, whom he dubbed a "proven match winner".
"I think there are two people missing from the team. One is Yuzvendra Chahal and the second is Arshdeep Singh. Because I think if a left-arm seamer can bring the new ball in [to the right-hander] at the start, it makes a huge difference in the game," Harbhajan said. "Because if he can get two early wickets… It's not like a right-hander can't do that but left-arm seamers get a natural angle.
"You would have seen players like Shaheen Shah Afridi or Mitchell Starc, they have a huge impact. When Australia won the World Cup [in 2015], Mitchell Starc had a huge impact, dismissing Brendan McCullum first [third] ball. So incoming ball at that speed coming in to a right hander is always a challenge.
India have picked Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav as their spin options for the World Cup, with the first two offering a similar angle of attack as left-arm orthodox spinners. Harbhajan would have liked more variety in India's spin contingent. With no offspinner in India's squad, Harbhajan would have preferred another wristspinner who can turn the ball in both directions.
"The second [notable miss in the squad] is Yuzvendra Chahal," he said. "Proven match-winner. Someone who has taken more number of wickets than any other spinner. If he was playing for any other country, he would have thought he would make the playing XI every time. After proving so much, he should have been there in the team.
"Because we have picked two left-arm spinners and they both won't play the same game together. And it may be so that when the opposition is packed with left-handers, Jadeja may not bowl his overs as you would want someone who can take the ball away from the left-hander.
"I think if you have to play three spinners you should have a left-arm spinner, a legspinner and an offspinner. And if you are picking a legspinner then maybe it's still okay if you don't pick an offspinner. But you didn't pick a legspinner or an offspinner and picked two left-arm spinners, that's a bit shocking."