'With all due respect to Ashwin…': Harbhajan analyses off-spinner's lukewarm ODI return, wants 2 ousted spinners back
- Harbhajan feels that while Ashwin has been a champion bowler for the Indian team across formats, in ODIs, they need a bowler who test both the edges of the batsman.
Former Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh feels that it is time for India to look beyond Ravichandran Ashwin in the ODI format, after the veteran spinner had a lukewarm return to the format after 5 years. Harbhajan did not just call for the return of the famed Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal duo but also named another unique spin option to help India solve their middle-over woes in ODI cricket.
India recorded one of their worst spin averages in the ODI series against South Africa with the pair of Ashwin and Chahal picking three wickets between themselves at 114.33.
Analysing their performance during his conversation with Sports Tak, Harbhajan felt that the spinners failed to a create lot of opportunities and rather looked defensive in their approach.
“Ashwin and Chahal didn't create too many opportunities. They were a bit defensive with the ball. There were times they could have attacked by placing a slip in position,” he said.
The veteran spinner further added that India need wicket-taking options in the middle overs rather than bowlers who contain runs, before opining that India should bring back Kuldeep and go with the famed 'Kul-Cha' pair once again. In the last two years, Kuldeep has played only nine ODIs for India, picking eight wickets, his last appearance being in the Sri Lanka tour in July 2021.
“We were missing that spark in the middle overs where people are going for wicket rather than waiting for things to happen. When KulCha were playing, they always picked wickets in the middle overs and won games for Team India. Don't know why they fell apart and why they weren't given opportunities after the World Cup. It is time to bring them back or bring some other X factor because we need wickets in the middle overs rather than doing the work of containing,” he added.
Harbhajan feels that while Ashwin has been a champion bowler for the Indian team across formats, in ODIs, they need a bowler who test both the edges of the batsman.
“He has done a lot for Team India irrespective of the format. With all due respect to R Ashwin, he is a champion bowler, but in ODIs, I feel, India should start looking for bowlers who can take the ball in and also out as the same time. Someone like Kuldeep Yadav can be a great choice. And why not go back to KulCha combination and see what they can bring back. They have won more number of games for India than any other spin combinations in recent past. It will be a good thing to go back to them,” he said.
If not Kuldeep, Harbhajan feels that India can bring back Varun Chakravarthy who hasn't been part of the Indian limited-overs team since the 2021 World Cup. He has so far played six T20Is for India, picking two wickets at an economy rate of 5.86, and is yet to earn his ODI cap.
“You can also try someone like Varun Chakravarthy. No harm trying him again. Yes he played a few matches in the T20 World Cup and then decided that he isn't good enough. But there was someone named Marvan Atapattu, who did not score runs in his first 10 innings of his career but eventually became one of the most successful players for Sri Lanka. So don't judge him for those 2-3 matches.”