Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said that Suryakumar Yadav should play in India’s playing XI at any cost. Despite having a poor ODI record, he was named in India’s 15-member squad for the 2023 World Cup. He came under the radar after his failure to find his feet in one-day cricket but still got the nod over a backup wicketkeeper-batter in Sanju Samson.
“I feel Suryakumar Yadav is a complete player. I don’t think selectors have been harsh on Sanju Samson. Yes I do feel Sanju is a quality player, but you can only select 15. And I feel picking Suryakumar Yadav over Sanju is the right move. Because the game Suryakumar Yadav has for the middle overs, Sanju probably doesn’t possess that yet. Suryakumar Yadav gives you the reliability and he can make big scores, while Sanju plays high-risk cricket. Some people will throw Surya’s one-day numbers at me. But what he has done in T20s, and if he comes into bat with those many deliveries left, then I don’t think there’s a better player than him in the whole country. What he can do in that position, even Rohit and Virat cannot,” Harbhajan Singh told a select group of journalists in a press conference organised by Star Sports.
However, Harbhajan Singh also claimed that the Suryakumar Yadav versus Sanju Samson debate isn’t reasonable as Suryakumar Yadav isn’t competing with Sanju Samson for a berth in India’s squad, but he is trying to seal his place in the middle order as well.
“It’s the most difficult job to bat at Nos. 5 and 6 – where Dhoni and Yuvi excelled in. If you’re going in after 30-35 overs, you need a game to pick gaps and hit boundaries. And nobody can do it better than Suryakumar Yadav. And if it were in my hands, I’d play him every single time. Because regardless of whether he clicks or no, his presence will put some sort of pressure on the opposition. Till the time he’s at the crease, he can play a match-winning knock any day. And players like him shouldn’t be wasted be keeping on the sidelines. So about the Surya versus Sanju debate, regardless of whether Sanju is in the squad, Suryakumar Yadav should be in the playing 11,” he further explained.
However, Suryakumar Yadav has played at all positions from No. 3 right down to No. 7 and has an average of 24.33 from 26 ODIs as well. Sanju Samson, on the other hand, despite playing just 13 matches, boasts an average of 55.71 at a strike rate of 104 as well.
“If your team plays together for the one year before going to play a big tournament, it makes a huge difference. Players get to understand their role and the expectations of them. Not just from a team’s point of view, but even while in a partnership with someone. If suppose you are batting with Virat Kohli, you need to know how he bats and the tempo you need to maintain. These small things matter a lot. Someone like a Hardik Pandya can hit a first-ball six. But there will be times he will have to keep his ego aside and play the situation,” he further added.
Meanwhile, everyone expected India’s squad for the upcoming mega event will see Yuzvendra Chahal’s inclusion but he has not been added and Harbhajan Singh expressed his surprise over his exclusion. However, both captain Rohit Sharma and chief selector Ajit Agarkar have said that they want to have batting depth.
“There are two people missing in this team. One is Yuzvendra Chahal and the other is Arshdeep Singh. Because, if a left-arm seamer brings the ball into the batters at the start, it makes a huge difference in the game. It’s not like right-handers can’t do it, but it is a natural angle for left-armers. When Australia won the World Cup in 2015, Mitchell Starc played a huge role in castling Brendon McCullum in the very first over. So an incoming ball at that speed, coming into a right-hander is always a challenge,” he expressed.
“And about Yuzvendra Chahal, he’s a proven match-winner. Someone who has taken more wickets than any other spinner. If he were playing for some other country, I feel he would’ve been in the playing XI every single time. After proving so much, I feel he should’ve been in the team. If I were in the management, I’d definitely have him in the team. We have chosen two left-arm spinners. But the two can never play together in the same match. The day Ravindra Jadeja plays, Axar Patel won’t – this is a given. And it can even happen that, the day there are many left-handers in the opposition, Ravindra Jadeja may not even bowl his 10 overs. And for that, you needed a bowler who could take the ball away from the left-hander,” Harbhajan Singh concluded.
India’s squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023:
Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wk), KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya (vc), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav