Champions Trophy 2017: Harbhajan Singh cries foul over omission from squad, takes dig at MS Dhoni
What’s the story?
Veteran Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh let his frustrations known at not being considered for selection for the Indian squad in the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy in England by launching a scathing attack on the BCCI selectors, questioning why MS Dhoni was selected in the 15-man squad while himself and Gautam Gambhir were omitted.
The 36-year-old was irate because of the reason given for Dhoni’s by selection committee head MSK Prasad that the former Indian skipper’s presence and vast experience means so much more to the team than what his dwindling numbers might suggest.
Harbhajan feels that the same yardstick should have been applied to himself as well as Gambhir, who have maintained consistency in performances over the years in a major tournament like the IPL.
“Obviously, we have seen that he (Dhoni) is not hitting the ball as well as we have seen,” Harbhajan told NDTV. "But he has been captain and he understands the game and having him in the middle will help a lot of youngsters. So he has that edge.
"But when it comes to me. I do feel that we are not given that sort of privilege," the bowler added. "We too have played for 19 years and won and lost India matches. I have won two World Cups too. So this privilege is for some players, and for some, it is not and I'm one of those for whom this privilege is not there. I don't know why that is the case.”
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Despite being a consistent performer in the 2017 IPL for Mumbai Indians (he was the most economical among the MI bowlers giving away just 6.48 runs an over) Harbhajan was overlooked for the younger Karn Sharma by the eventual champions for the Qualifier as well as the Final.
Speaking about his exclusion from the two matches against the Rising Pune Supergiant, Harbhajan made no bones about his disappointment at having been left out and he is making sure that the Indian selectors also get to know what he thinks about the policy adopted for the veterans of Team India.
Harbhajan is clearly disappointed that the Indian selectors did not use the same parameter that was adopted for Dhoni’s in his case as he feels that his vast experience of playing in big tournaments could have come in handy for Virat Kohli’s side in England.
He also lamented about the significance of the IPL, questioning whether the performances in the T20 tournament counted for anything considering how the likes of himself, as well as KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir, have been consistently overlooked when it came to selection for Team India.
Upon suggestions that their not-so-impressive-fielding may be the reasons behind their non-selection, Harbhajan commented that he will be more than satisfied if anyone from the selection committee reached out to him explaining the reason why he was not even considered as an option.
Nevertheless, Harbhajan acknowledged that fellow off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has fully recovered from injury after missing out on the IPL and wished that the Tamil Nadu cricketer does well for India.
With age not on his side, time is running out for the veteran off-spinner to add to his impressive tally of 711 international wickets. With the IPL done and dusted, Harbhajan will look to return to domestic cricket with Punjab and keep up the performances he has given recently and perhaps force the Indian selectors to give him yet another crack at Team India.
While Harbhajan’s frustration is understandable, it was needless to drag the names of his longtime teammates MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir in making these controversial statements. The team selection is based on a number of permutations and combinations and unfortunately, in Harbhajan’s case, it is not in his favour with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in prime form at the moment.
Like Yuvraj Singh has proved with his comeback, Harbhajan still has sufficient time left to make his way back as well and he should focus on maintaining his fitness and let the ball do the talking for him rather than come up with such remarks.