Thursday, 28 May 2015

Turbunator 2.0

With 101 test caps and 413 wickets, one would wonder how Harbhajan Singh missed out on the Indian team for three consecutive years especially considering how badly we fared up in the spin department during that time where we were outclassed by Lyon on Australian pitches, the English duo of Swann and Monty on Indian pitches and most embarrassingly by Moeen Ali in the English summer last year.  But Ashwin, Jadeja and Ojha, for their part, did not perform so poorly that it set the alarm bells ringing. Dhoni, as we have known him, doesn’t drop players once he gives them chance and to be fair, all of them kept improving with each outing. But have they improved enough?

How the tables have turned!

That was the question facing the new Dada on the block, Kholi. He has an aggressive personality and he wants match winners. And the first thing he does after getting full time captaincy is roping in a true established match winner of Indian Cricket- Bhajji.

Now, I am a quintessential sentimental Indian cricket fan who would love to see all the old boys back in the team, from the yuvrajs to the zaheers to the sehwags to the gambhirs and this development only fills my heart. But I had to ask myself, is it the best foot forward for Indian cricket? By taking a step backwards? I am pretty sure many fans like me wondered.

Harbhajan’s performance in the last two Ranji Seasons did not augur for consideration let alone selection. In 2013-14 season, he played 6 matches for 22 wickets and the 2014-15 season, 3 matches for 6 wickets, dishing out performances that wouldn’t force himself back into the Indian Test Team. Yet he makes a comeback into a Test squad solely on the form and rhythm displayed in a T20 league. And the third spinner in the squad Karn Sharma too was picked based on his T20 exploits. It’s definitely not a reassuring sign.

Having said that, I am still betting on Kholi and the selectors to have made the right decision. That is because cricket is more than just numbers. It’s about instinct after a certain level. Karn Sharma, though was beaten all over the park in his first test in Adelaide, is a good enough spinner to the eye, and he has to develop his trade on the move with the team due to the dearth of other quality leg spinners running in the circuit and also because of the time it would take for him to develop on “greener” Indian tracks (For reference to ‘greener’, read: ) , and as far as Bhajji is concerned, we all know that the veterans are always just one match away, and if a T20 league could supply enough of confidence to push Bhajji to that one match, it would do.

Bhajji's new spell

Bhajji not only got the numbers behind himself in IPL8 but also impressed everyone with his spells. He was accurate, spun the ball well with good flight and varying loops. One could see that everything was going well for Bhajji with the ball. Bhajji’s inclusion could also be justified on the lines that it is important for selectors, the media and also the fans, to not get carried away by all the talk about “future” as concentrating on the match and series at hand is the best way to go forward.

If Bhajji would get a look-in in the one-match test series remains to be seen, but if he does, we would all love to see the Turbunator back at his best, delivering match turning performances, because Indian Cricket needs him, an experienced quality spinner, more than ever. I and legions of fans like me, wish him the best!

PS: He is Dada's boy, a fighter! So even the harshest of his critics will soon be biting their tongue. XD