Asia Cup: If Chahal was playing in any other team, he would always be in the playing eleven, says Harbhajan

Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh expressed surprise over the absence of two players, Yuzvendra Chahal and Arshdeep Singh, from India’s ODI World Cup squad, saying the senior leg-spinner would have been in the playing eleven of any other team if it was upto him to decide.

Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh expressed surprise over the absence of two players, Yuzvendra Chahal and Arshdeep Singh, from India’s ODI World Cup squad, saying the senior leg-spinner would have been in the playing eleven of any other team if it was upto him to decide.

Chahal had been a mainstay with the Indian team in white-ball matches, but of late had made fewer appearances in ODIs. In ODIs since 2022, Chahal took 24 wickets in 16 matches at an average of 27.9 and economy rate of 5.5, but with Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel in good form, the leg-spinner missed out on a spot in the World Cup on home soil.

On the other hand, Arshdeep has only played three ODIs so far but is yet to take a wicket. Interestingly, both Chahal and Arshdeep were not a part of the Asia Cup squad, from which the eventual ODI World Cup team was selected.

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“Two players are missing from the World Cup squad — Yuzvendra Chahal and Arshdeep Singh. The left-arm seamer could have been very useful and can swing in with the new ball because he can give early wickets. You have seen that Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mitchell Starc can create a very different kind of impact. When Australia won the World Cup in 2015, Starc had a huge impact in making them win via dismissing Brendon McCullum upfront.”

“Yuzvendra Chahal is a proven match-winner, and if he were playing for any other team in the world, he would have been in the playing eleven. He has proved himself time and time again and it is unfortunate that he missed out on the Indian side. These two could have been handy, like they know the conditions very well at home,” said Harbhajan in a virtual press conference organised by Star Sports.

Harbhajan was also surprised over India not having any right-arm spinner, leading to no variety in the spin bowling department, though Kuldeep is a wrist-spinner.

“We have picked up 2 left-arm spinners, who are never going to play together in a game. On a day, if they have a lot of left-handers in the opposition, they might not play all together and Jadeja may not even bowl his overs, so you need a bowler who can take  the ball away from the batters.”

“I think Yuzvendra Chahal and Arshdeep Singh should have been in the team, but in place of whom is a different debate altogether. If you pick a leg-spinner, then if you don’t pick an off-spinner, it’s fine. But not picking either leg-spinner or off-spinner and going with three left-arm spinners is a bit surprising for me.”

Former Pakistan fast-bowler Shoaib Akhtar was also left gobsmacked over Chahal’s exclusion and opined that India aren’t a settled unit yet ahead of the World Cup.

“Not picking Chahal is beyond me. Plus, Arshdeep has played a lot of India-Pakistan pressure games and you needed a left-arm fast-bowler.”

“The odd thing for India is that when they score 150-200, they then increase one batter and stretch it to number eight. If the top five do not bat well, how will they expect the number eight batter to come good, and what are they expecting?”

“With India, I also have this feeling that why India couldn’t pick a settled eleven in last two years -– because there were so many injuries and three-four players are back after injuries, which also needed replacements. It’s a very strange thing for me as the squad is not yet settled,” added Akhtar in the press conference.

(IANS)