Ravichandran Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Yuzvendra Chahal (R).

"Team India needs to figure out which spinners will get them wickets" - Harbhajan Singh after 2nd India vs South Africa ODI

Rudransh Khurana

Harbhajan Singh has asked India to look for "wicket-taking" spinners following their seven-wicket loss at the hands of South Africa in the second ODI on Friday.

Defending 288, India got their first wicket in the 22nd over when the Proteas had already crossed 132. Two scalps followed in the 35th and 36th overs, but the hosts were in a comfortable position by then and went on to win with 11 balls to spare.


India played both Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal on the dry and turning Paarl pitch. While Ashwin bowled four overs in the powerplay and two in the death, Chahal completed his quota between the 10th and 40th overs. The off-spinner went wicketless and conceded 68 runs in his 10 overs. Chahal, meanwhile, dismissed opposition captain Temba Bavuma for 35 and went for 4.7 runs to the over.

Harbhajan Singh wasn't happy with the effort. Speaking on the subject in a video on his YouTube channel, the former spinner said:

"I have been saying for years that if India wants to win ODIs, tournaments, and World Cups, they need wicket-taking bowlers in the middle-overs. This happened in the World Cup (presuambly the 2021 T20 World Cup), where we lost because we couldn't take wickets in the middle overs. Whenever your spinners or other middle-overs bowlers won't take wickets in the 15-40 overs, the match will slip out of your hands. I believe Team India needs to figure out which spinners will get them wickets. Even if they give 60 runs in 8 overs or 70 in 9 overs, doesn't matter, but they should get three wickets. You won't be successful without taking wickets in the middle-overs."

Harbhajan Singh added:

"Now, winning the third match is very important for the Indian team because when you play a tournament and you know you have lost, winning the last match for a bit of inner peace feels good. I hope the Indian team brings some changes in the bowling department and bring in bowlers that try to take wickets and not stop runs."

The last time India played an ODI series in South Africa in 2018, they deployed two wrist spinners - Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. The duo took 33 wickets between them in six games at an average of 13.88 and 16.38 respectively, helping India win the series by a commanding 5-1 margin.

Something that should make India think. Both sides' spinners gave runs at over 5 but:

SA spinners 8 wickets, avg 33.37, SR 39.0
IND spinners 2 wickets, avg 111, SR 120.5

Shamsi, Maharaj, Markram out-bowling Chahal, Ashwin....
10:25 AM · Jan 21, 2022

The pair's dip in form in the following months and the selectors' lack of trust ultimately led India to return to the Ashwin-Ravindra Jadeja for white-ball tournaments. While Chahal has made a comeback of sorts, Kuldeep is nursing an injury with no official confirmation of his expected return.

"If you want to play Venkatesh Iyer, get him to open the innings" - Harbhajan Singh

youtu.be/uYN-Vu5mDUs Venkatesh को नंबर 6 नहीं ओपन कराओ, क्या है भारत की हार का सबसे बड़ा कारण?
11:51 AM · Jan 22, 2022

Harbhajan Singh also opined on recent debutant Venkatesh Iyer's position in the team. The all-rounder scored 2 (7) and 22 (33) while batting at no.6 in the first two ODIs.

The former cricketer feels India need to play Iyer as an opener, a position that led to his rise in the IPL, saying Iyer isn't ready to replace the likes of MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh yet.

Harbhajan Singh added:

"There's been a lot of talk about whether Venkatesh Iyer should play or not. I feel that if you want to play him, get him to open the innings because he's an opener. Asking him to bat at No.5-6 is a difficult thing for him because if you are expecting him to bat how he did in the IPL then you are forgetting that he did that as an opener. There's a different pressure at No.5-6 that's why MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh are such big players because they have won so many matches from those positions and perhaps India still hasn't found their replacement."

The inconsequential third and final ODI will kickstart at 2:00 pm IST on Friday.

Edited by Samya Majumdar
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