AUS v IND 2018-19: Harbhajan Singh questions India's decision to drop Chahal

India didn't play Yuzvendra Chahal in the first game and picked Krunal Pandya over him.

Krunal Pandya went for 55 runs in his four overs  | GETTY

India lost their opening game on Australian tour 2018-19 by four runs. The first T20I between India and Australia saw a nail-biting finish as the match went to the last over. They needed 13 runs off last six balls which was denied by Aussie all-rounder Marcus Stoinis. 

India lost Rishabh Pant at the wrong time which shifted the momentum back to Australia and even Dinesh Karthik who was dismissed after a 13-ball 30 couldn't win the game for India.

Veteran Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh wasn't in favor of India picking Krunal Pandya over Yuzvendra Chahal at the Gabba. His reason was Krunal isn't a spinner of the ball, he only bowls fast.

"That [team combination] is something that they have to look at. Whenever Kuldeep [Yadav] and [Yuzvendra] Chahal have bowled together, they have taken wickets, put pressure on the opposition and they have been quite successful as a pair. That is where the Indian cricket team have to think about what is the combination going forward.

"We might not see Krunal Pandya batting at 6 and bowling his four overs. He is more of a bowler who bowls a few overs here and there but in Australia, you need someone else to bowl those four overs because he doesn't spin the ball and bowls it really, really fast," Harbhajan told India Today.

Harbhajan is certain about Chahal replacing Krunal in the next match. "I think we will get to see Chahal in the next game and it could be in place of Krunal."

India tried KL Rahul at number 3 in the first T20I which made Virat Kohli bat at number 4. The Indian skipper wasn't looking fluent at that position and it's better to get him back on his usual position.

Harbhajan believes it's time to try Ambati Rayudu in Indian T20I side as well. He has done well on the no. 4 spot in ODIs.  "We were talking about KL Rahul and using him as a proper batsman at number four but there is Ambati Rayudu who will be playing the World Cup. Going forward, the number of matches he will play the better for Team India.

"There are a lot of problems that need to be solved before we get into the World Cup, the spin department especially. We need Chahal, if not this game then we will need him in the next game."

Not only Harbhajan, even Sunil Gavaskar, and Michael Clarke were not impressed with the move to promote Rahul on number 3.

"I don't think Kohli should have batted at No.4. In the first match of the tour, you want to bat on the position you generally bat on. It is only when you have won a series, you take such chances," Gavaskar said in the post-match show of the match.

"Virat Kohli is that batsman who can come in, take a few balls and bat till the end and win you games. I would want to see him bat up the order at No.3. He can even open but not go down the order," Clarke said agreeing with Gavaskar.

Pant's innings was crucial for India but he was dismissed playing a reverse ramp shot on 20 runs off 15 deliveries. The wicket was crucial for India and it was seen a the turning point of the game. 

"Rishabh is too good a player and he needs to hit it straight and in his own areas, other than trying and doing something different, which is not his game. Play the reverse sweep against the fast bowlers, where the ball is wet and the fast bowlers are finding it hard to get it to land where they want it to. He should have played a proper cricketing shot, he would have got much more runs than what he scored. His problem is, he is not backing his game and playing some different kind of game that is not suiting him and is not solving Team India's problem.

"I would talk to Rishabh Pant and tell him about playing his own game and if in that process he gets out, you will not feel bad about it. Playing something that is not your game is hurting not only Pant but also hurting India's results," Harbhajan said.

The second T20 will be played in Melbourne on Friday.


By Sihyeu Singh - 22 Nov, 2018

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