Harbhajan Singh has expressed his doubt on whether Ravichandran Ashwin has been rested or dropped from the team for the ongoing limited-overs series against Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, Sourav Ganguly has thrown his weight behind Kuldeep Yadav and believes that he could be the frontline spinner for India.
Ashwin was left out of the Indian One-Day International squad that is currently playing a five-match series in Sri Lanka as part of the rotation system being employed by the selection panel and now Ashwin will make his English County Championship debut on August 28, for Worcestershire at home against Gloucestershire at New Road in Division Two action. The idea behind Ashwin playing in England was that he could get a taste of English conditions ahead of overseas tours to South Africa and England. However, Harbhajan felt that board is not disclosing the right reason for sending out from the team.
"I am not sure if R Ashwin has been rested or dropped. We have seen reports that Ashwin has been rested but at the same time in his rest period, he is going to England to play county cricket. So I don't know what kind of rest it is going to be. I am not sure whether he has been rested or dropped", Harbhajan told India Today.
Former Indian spinner got Ganguly’s support on the exclusion of Ashwin from the ODI squad. Ganguly also praised wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav and called him a bright hope for the Indian spin department.
"I know where Harbhajan Singh is coming from because whether it is him or me we have seen such situations very closely in teams and understand the team dynamics. Ashwin's performance in Sri Lanka has been in the Test matches. In sub-continent conditions, in Test matches there are no doubts about R Ashwin's place," Ganguly said to India Today.
“But I have a feeling that Kuldeep Yadav is slowly going to get into the ODI side as a frontline spinner, especially on pitches which do not respond to the spinners when they go to South Africa, England, and Australia and considering they are going to play the World Cup in England."
The Indian spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin have been a threat for the oppositions in Tests, but they have failed to recreate the same magic in the limited-overs format. Jadeja played 136 ODIs and grabbed 155 wickets and Ashwin played 111 One dayers for India while taking 150 wickets but in the final of the Champions Trophy against Pakistan both the main spinners failed to give some control to the team. Ashwin and Jadeja both conceded 70 and 67 runs respectively and so, Ganguly felt chinaman bowler Kuldeep can be a better option.
"I was present at the Champions Trophy commentating and I could get a feeling around that there could be a possibility in due course that both Jadeja and Ashwin don't play on good pitches. Jadeja is a far better fielder, he can bat, he is a left arm spinner who is good in one-day cricket. So Jadeja is a package in ODI cricket. We have been hearing Virat Kohli harping on fitness with Yuvraj Singh not getting past the fitness mark and R Ashwin is probably not the quickest on the field and all these considerations will come back. If Kuldeep Yadav keeps performing then I think there will be pressure on either R Ashwin or Jadeja and Jadeja's fielding and batting could just be a bit more beneficial to him", added the former India captain.
22-year-old Kuldeep played two Tests and have five ODIs experience. He has the part of the Indian ODI squad but didn’t get the chance to play in the first match. However, Axar Patel embraced the opportunity and claimed three wickets in Dambulla to lead India to a nine-wicket victory.
"It is a good opportunity for Kuldeep Yadav to showcase his talent and start winning games for India. He has done well in whatever limited opportunities he has got. He is different to the other spinners who are usually wrist spinners or finger spinners but Kuldeep is someone who bowls Chinaman and he brings a lot to the table in terms of variety so hopefully he will be good", Harbhajan said.