Harbhajan Singh wants Ashish Nehra to take over as India's T20I coach in place of Rahul Dravid

Ashish Nehra (right) shares a joke with Javagal Srinath (centre)
Ashish Nehra (right) is a good choice for India's T20I coach, Harbhajan Singh feels

Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh feels that a split coaching system like England's might benefit India in the long run. The Men in Blue are trying to overcome a morale-shattering exit in the semi-final stage of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

Harbhajan is of the opinion that former India pacer Ashish Nehra could be an ideal candidate for the T20I coaching role and could take the team forward in the shortest format.

England have used a split coaching system and it has paid rich dividends. Under Matthew Mott, England went on to win the T20 World Cup in England while the Test team has also gone from strength to strength under Brendon McCullum.

Harbhajan Singh is currently in Abu Dhabi where he will be seen in action for the Delhi Bulls in the Abu Dhabi T10 League. He feels that Nehra, who recently retired from T20 cricket, could turn things around for India. Speaking on the sidelines of the event, he said to PTI (via ESPNCricinfo):

"In T20 format, you can have someone like Ashish Nehra who recently retired from the game. He [Nehra] knows this better than - with all due respect - Rahul.”

Harbhajan went on, suggesting that instead of removing Dravid, the Indian team can have him working with Nehra.

"We [Dravid and he] have played together for so many years. He has vast knowledge, but this is a tricky format. Someone who has played the game more recently is better suited for the coaching job in T20s. I am not saying you remove Rahul from T20. Ashish and Rahul can work together to build this team for the 2024 World Cup."

Nehra retired from competitive cricket in 2017 while Dravid called it quits way back in 2013. Nehra took charge of the Gujarat Titans earlier this year and under his mentorship, the Titans went on to lift the title in their very first season.

Harbhajan Singh felt that with split coaching, Dravid could take a break from time to time as he did in New Zealand.

"With such an arrangement [split coaching], it is easy for Rahul as well, who can take a break as well ,like he did for New Zealand tour and Ashish can do the job in his absence."

After the World Cup exit, Rahul Dravid, along with India’s regular top three - Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli - was given a break. Hardik Pandya led the team in Rohit’s absence while VVS Laxman filled in for Dravid.

Harbhajan Singh wants India's top three to increase their strike rate in T20Is

Harbhajan Singh is not happy with Indian top three's strike rates [file photo]
Harbhajan Singh is not happy with Indian top three's strike rates [file photo]

India’s top three have received a lot of flak for their underwhelming strike rates. The Men in Blue went down to England by 10 wickets in the semi-finals to bow out of the T20 World Cup. Openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul only mustered 116 and 128 runs respectively at strike rates of 106.42 and 120.75.

Kohli finished as the leading run-scorer of the tournament with 296 runs at a strike rate of 136.40 but even he failed to press on the accelerator at crucial junctures of the game.

Harbhajan Singh feels that the batting approach of the Indian team has to change in this format and India cannot play T20Is like ODIs.

"The approach has to change in the T20 format. The first six overs are important. If that doesn't happen, you will be dependent on Hardik [Pandya] or Surya [Suryakumar Yadav] for scoring 50 off 20. If they don't fire, you will end up with a below-par total.
"England changed their approach and they have won two World Cups [including the 2019 ODI World Cup]. T20 has to be played like T20, not like ODIs."

Harbhajan Singh also thinks that a lot of pressure is being put on the middle-order batters if the top order plays at a steadier pace.

"All the top three need to do is increase their strike rate. It is tough when you bat at 110 or 120 strike rate and try to make 180. They have to score at least nine runs per over in the first 10-12 overs.
"I am no one to comment whether they would want to play [T20Is] or not. They are quality players. If they can remain fit, why not, provided the approach is different. Players can't be changed overnight. The approach has to change."

The Indian side is currently in New Zealand preparing for the three-match ODI series starting on 25th November (Friday). The Men in Blue will be led by Shikhar Dhawan in the absence of Rohit Sharma. Earlier, Hardik Pandya led India to a 1-0 series win in the three-match T20I series.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat
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