Time for Harbhajan to take retirement

Harbhajan Singh

India is known for its variety of cricketers across the globe. According to former legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and many others, there is no scarcity of talent in the country when it comes to all the departments of the game. They feels a correct approach is required to find the young guns, who can play for their country in all formats of the game. However, the recent move from selectors have once again proved that they are gunning in the wrong direction. How on earth they can pick Harbhajan Singh for one Test match series against Bangladesh? Many would jump the gun and say that he played an important role for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and should be rewarded. Is IPL a right parameter to judge someone? If yes then there were several other Indian spinners who had a fabulous outing in the cash rich league. Instead of picking them in the final XI, the call was given to veteran Harbhajan Singh. He made a comeback after more than two years, picking up three wickets in the process. His second wicket of Imrul Kayes, made him overtake former Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram in the leading wicket takers in Test cricket history. Harbhajan has 416 wickets in Tests as he went past Akram who had a tally of 414 wickets. Harbhajan needs six more wickets to surpass Shaun Pollock (421) and become the seventh leading wicket taker in Test history. Are milestones and records more important for the selectors? Virat Kohli has publicly stated that he is an admirer of five bowlers’ theory, which gives an option of playing three seamers and two spinners in Test matches. The dynamic India Test skipper believes that it is the only way to win games and be aggressive.

In theory, it is a wonderful ploy. Six batsmen should be able to get the team the desired runs on the scoreboard. Five specialist bowlers ought to be able to bowl out the opposition and restrict them if required. “I would want someone like R Ashwin, who is averaging 40 with the bat in Test matches – you really can’t ask for more from an allrounder – and [Wriddhiman] Saha too. If those two start clicking, you literally have seven batsmen, and you can’t really ask for more as a captain. It’s basically up to the first six to take more responsibility and we are confident of doing that.” Moreover, by picking up three wickets against a week and fragile Bangladesh team, Harbhajan Singh has done no world of good for himself. It will be suicidal to select him in the next Test series against Sri Lanka. To begin with, Bangladesh hardly plays Test cricket. Secondly, if this would have been a series of atleast three Test matches, the real character of the offspinner would have come to limelight. It is not a hidden fact that Bhajji was a champion player during his prime days and formed a lethal pair with Anil Kumble. The Indian team already has a well-established off-spinner in form of R Ashwin and now there is a need of a good leg-spinner. Karn Sharma, the leg spinner, was in the squad but was made to sit on the bench because of a finish product like Harbhajan Singh. There is no place for emotions in any sports and cricket is no different. The international teams are selecting players according to the need of future series but god knows what is wrong with the Indian management.

Apart from Karn Sharma, bowlers like Shahbaz Nadeem and Yuzvendra Chahal have performed well in the domestic circuit and the IPL as well. These two have proved their mantle in front of the best and there is no reason to keep them waiting and guessing. We can’t run away from the fact that Indian team need a spinner, who can partner R Ashwin in the upcoming series. The more youngsters are drafted in the squad, the better it would be for the team. Matches are won on the basis of performance and not on previous records. It would be interesting to try one of the above mentioned name against Sri Lanka in August instead of going with Bhajji. The conditions will be same as India in the Rainbow nation and this can work in favor of the young guns if selected. There is no doubt that Harbhajan Singh had a fantastic career but it is time to keep him aside and let the new generation of spinners take over at the helm of spin affairs in the Indian team. After Sri Lanka, the Indian team will take on South Africa in India. The Proteas have some of the greatest batsmen of modern era in their ranks. The likes of Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers are known for their skills against the spinners and won’t let the Indian spinners settle down easily. But, a good performance from the spinners before this series could make things in India's favor as far as role of tweakers is concerned. India is certainly not short of spinners but they need backing and selection in the final XI to demonstrate their talent. A home series is the right way to move forward if one is looking to make progress in any field and cricket shouldn’t be played on different ground in this regard. Having people like Harbhajan Singh, who has passed his prime long time back, will reduce the chances of finding a real future star, who can make his team proud on all sort of wickets.

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