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Chahal’s presence in team was necessary, hope doors aren’t closed on him, says Harbhajan

New Delhi : MPs at Parliament House during the Monsoon Session. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Aug 23 : Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh expressed disappointment at the exclusion of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal from the Asia Cup squad, saying his presence in the team for the six-team event was necessary and hoped that a return to the ODI side wasn’t closed on him.

For India’s squad in the Asia Cup, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel are the spinners in the tournament happening from August 30 to September 17. Notably, all three are left-arm spinners, though Kuldeep is a wrist-spinner, as opposed to Chahal, who is a right-arm leg-spinner.

“The one thing I feel is lacking in the team is the absence of Yuzvendra Chahal. A leg-spinner who can get the ball to turn away. If you talk about genuine spinner, I don’t think there’s any spinner in India better than Chahal in white-ball formats. Yes, his last few games weren’t good, but that doesn’t make him a bad bowler,” said Harbhajan in an episode on his YouTube channel.

Since the start of 2022, Chahal has taken 24 wickets in 16 ODIs at an average of 20.91. But since last year’s 20-over Asia Cup, Chahal has played only five ODIs, taking just three wickets, and didn’t play at all in the recent series against West Indies.

“I think his presence in the team was necessary. I hope the doors aren’t closed to him. It’s important to consider him for the World Cup because the tournament is in India. Chahal is a proven match-winner.”

“I can understand his form isn’t good, so you may have rested him. But I think if he was with the team, his confidence would’ve stayed intact. Any player who comes back after being dropped, the pressure to perform is always there,” added Harbhajan, a member of the 2011 Men’s ODI World Cup-winning Indian team.

Asked about Chahal’s exclusion during the Asia Cup squad announcement press conference in New Delhi, chief selector Ajit Agarkar stated it was difficult to have two wrist-spinners in the team, with Kuldeep being ahead of him.

“He is another terrific performer for India. But sometimes it is the balance of the team or the team combination. Axar (Patel) has done really well and he can bat as well. Kuldeep (Yadav) has had a fantastic run. At this point, to fit two wrist spinners might be difficult.”

“Though we are to fit 15 guys later (for the World Cup), we are a little bit fortunate here to take a couple of extra guys. But unfortunately, at this point, it was difficult to fit two wrist spinners and Kuldeep is a little bit ahead of him, who gives us a different kind of option. So he has to miss out, unfortunately,” he said.

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