Sunil Gavaskar backs Harbhajan Singh's recall to Indian Test squad
Former batting great Sunil Gavaskar has backed the Indian selectors’ decision to pick offspinner Harbhajan Singh for their upcoming one-off Test match against Bangladesh. While the 34-year-old was ignored for the 3-match ODI series that follows, he has been given a chance to resurrect his Test career with inclusion in the Virat Kohli-led 15-man squad.
"With Harbhajan's selection, the selectors have shown that they are picking players on current form. Whether senior or junior, if a player is doing well, he will come back (to the team)," Gavaskar said.
Although Harbhajan has done well for Mumbai in the ongoing IPL with 16 wickets from 14 matches, making him their 2nd highest wicket-taker this season, it shouldn’t be forgotten that he had a pretty average Ranji Trophy season for Punjab as he picked up just 6 wickets from 3 matches at an average of 42.50.
Gavaskar, however, stated that Harbhajan, who has taken over 400 wickets in his Test career, is a proven performer at the international level and doesn’t need to show through his Ranji Trophy performances that he is back to his best.
"Well he has more than 400 Test wickets to his name, he doesn't need to prove anything to anyone or depend on his Ranji Trophy performance. Sometimes it is not only about taking wickets, it is also about how you are bowling and Harbhajan looks to be in good form. He is bowling slow, getting the ball to turn, getting the bounce, selectors have taken note of that.”
On a slightly contrary note, though, Gavaskar acknowledged that Harbhajan’s return was made easier by the fact that there is a dearth of top quality spinners in Indian cricket currently.
"Yes, certainly, it is not a good sign. It shows that we don't have many good off-spinners on the domestic circuit," added the former Indian captain.
Finally, he added that he was pleased with India having picked full-strength squads for the series as it indicates that they aren’t taking Bangladesh lightly. Bangladesh recently reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup and followed it up with a 3-0 ODI series whitewash of Pakistan.
“Bangladesh have played good cricket recently, whether beating Pakistan at home or in the World Cup. It could also be the case the players did not want to rest. One normally asks for rest when he is completely tired and not able to give his best for the country," he concluded.