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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Team for Bangladesh tour - Harbhajan gets a recall !

Way back in 1979, the touring Australians led by Kim Hughes played their second Test at Bangalore where an off-spinner debuted and went along to play for India for sometime with recognition …

For the tour of Bangladesh now, there was thinking that the Cricket board would balance by selecting Kohli for the Test and provide him rest for One dayers – and perhaps Dhoni too might rest after hectic IPL.  There was some talk that as an act of grace, the Board might recall Virender Sehwag, Yuvaraj Singh, Zaheer and Harbhajan – allowing them a peaceful retirement – there was some talk that Suresh Raina might lead….   Nothing happened eventually – we have almost the same team that played in recent Aussie tour / WC cup.

The man on comeback is 34 year old Harbhajan Singh – who has played 101 tests taking 413 wickets and 229 one dayers taking 259 wickets ~ he has two test centuries too ….. he has been bowling well in IPL, scored a flashy 50 off mere 19 too – but is that the investment for future …

Recall that in that famous Test no. 1535 at Eden Gardens ever remembered for the masterly 281 of VVS Laxman and Ganguly reversing the winning streak of Aussies,  occurred the hat-trick of Bhaji, getting rid of skipper Ricky Pointing,  Adam Gilchrist  and the  wizard the great Shane Warne who was caught out. The Last decision was also reffered to the third umpire who decided to give it out, making it the first ever hat-trick by an Indian in test cricket. Harbhajan Singh  returns  to India's Test squad for the first time in two years after he was picked for the only Test in Bangladesh from June 10 to 14. The selection committee, which met in Mumbai on Wednesday, retained the majority of the squad that toured Australia in 2014-15 with the exception of left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.  He last played Test cricket in 2013, when he was picked for the final two matches of the home series against Australia that India won 4-0. Harbhajan took only five wickets in those games at an average of 40.80.

"The Bangladesh batting order has six left-handers, keeping that in mind, we discussed with the captain and we felt it was necessary to have a second offspinner," Patil said. "I also want to point out we not only discussed Harbhajan. We also discussed other youngsters and considered them. Ultimately the selection committee and the captain felt this was the right choice for this particular tour." Could not  the selectors have thought of a Swarupam Purkayastha of Assam,  Malolan Rangarajan of Tamil Nadu or Jayant Yadav of Haryana or Parvez Rasool of Kashmir,   if they were looking for an off-spinner only.   Sunil Gavaskar  is quoted as saying NDTV that the selection of Harbhajan shows the dearth of quality off-spinners in India. "Certainly it is not a good sign. It shows that we don't have many good off-spinners around who are pressing for a place in the team."

Now the team is :  Test squad: Virat Kohli (capt), M Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Ishant Sharma
ODI squad: MS Dhoni (capt), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Stuart Binny, Dhawal Kulkarni

Eventually, he may not be in the playing XI  – in the hey days of Indian spinners,  Venkatraghavan and Prasanna were never picked together – one replaced another depending on Captain’s choice ! -   In that tour of 1979, at Chepauk in 1st Test debuted Dilip Doshi and in the 2nd at Bangalore debuted Shivlal Yadav going on to scalp 102 test wickets.  Srinivasan Venkatraghavan too played in that Test – two offies in the same Test …

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th May 2015.

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