Harbhajan Singh has picked Mohammed Siraj ahead of senior pacer Ishant Sharma as his third-choice fast bowler in India’s XI that will play New Zealand in the World Test Championship final. Harbhajan also stated that Siraj’s form, confidence and pace would make it tougher for New Zealand batsmen.
With just a week left for the inaugural WTC final between India and New Zealand, experts and pundits have already started pitching their views on different combinations and choices regarding players’ selection.
Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh, who is the third-highest wicket-taker for India in Tests, has favoured Hyderabad bowler Mohammed Siraj to play in the final ahead of senior bowler Ishant Sharma as India’s third seamer alongside Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Harbhajan cited Siraj’s improvement in his bowling makes him a better choice against Ishant.
"If I was the captain, I would go with three pure fast bowlers. In that case, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami pick themselves. In this final, I would like to go with Mohammed Siraj ahead of Ishant Sharma," Harbhajan told PTI on Thursday.
“Ishant is a brilliant bowler but for this game, my choice is Siraj, who has shown remarkable improvement in the last two years,” he added.
Siraj, who has just played five Tests till now against Ishant’s 101 caps, made his Test debut in Australia and led an inexperienced bowling unit in the final Test at Brisbane where he scalped his maiden five-wicket haul to restrict the Australians from posting a heavy total. Harbhajan added that Siraj’s current form and his hunger for chances in contrast to Ishant’s injuries, subject to fitness, makes the former a better choice.
"You have to look at the present scenario. Siraj's form, pace and confidence makes him a better choice for this final match. The kind of form he is in the last six months, he looks like a bowler who is hungry for his chances. Ishant has gone through some injuries of late but has been a great servant of Indian cricket no doubt," the off-spinner said.
Although Siraj has never played a single Test against the Black Caps, Harbhajan still feels that he will be a threat to New Zealand batters with his ability to swing and bowl accurate line and length deliveries.
"If you leave some grass on the surface, Siraj with his pace will be lethal. Trust me, New Zealand batters won't find him easy as he not only hits the deck but also gets to move the ball off the pitch at brisk pace. He can create awkward angles for batsmen," Harbhajan observed.