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“I feel Ashwin should play”- Harbhajan Singh
By SMCS - Dec 26, 2023 7:00 am
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Former Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh feels that the Indian team should opt for Ravichandran Ashwin at No. 8 instead of seam-bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur against South Africa as well. India will play against the Proteas in a two-match Test series, starting at the SuperSport Park Stadium on Boxing Day (December 26).

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin

However, in overseas conditions, Team India have generally backed their five-bowler theory with three pacers, a spinning all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja and Thakur as well. However, Mohammed Shami is unavailable and Prasidh Krishna is likely to replace him in the playing XI. Hence, Harbhajan feels they need batting depth which Ashwin could do better.

On his YouTube channel, Harbhajan Singh said: “According to me Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal will open. Shubman Gill would come in at number three and the fourth spot will be for Virat Kohli. The fifth and sixth spots belong to Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul respectively. For number seven Ravindra Jadeja but the biggest question comes at number 8 with Ashwin and Shardul available. I feel Ashwin should play at number 8 because you have Jasprit Bumrah for number 9, Siraj for 10 and Prasidh Krishna for 11.”

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Harbhajan Singh further added: “But here I feel the conditions will be hot, the pitch will be hard, the bounce will be there and you have three pacers so I think India should go with two spinners. I feel South Africa would love to place pace so I think you should play on your strengths. I feel Ashwin should play but I don’t see that happening.”

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin

However, Harbhajan Singh still backed his statement during the WTC final 2023 that Team India made the right decision by dropping Ashwin over Thakur against Australia. He also explained how conditions were different in England than they are in South Africa, which gave a spot for the seam bowling all-rounder.

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“The biggest debate is whether Shardul should play or Ashwin, this topic became a heated discussion during the World Test Championship. The conditions there were different because the ball seams on Day 1 so I feel Shardul was the right choice according to those conditions. There was a lot of grass on the wicket, even though he couldn’t make an impact I feel the decision was right,” Harbhajan Singh concluded.