If Yuzvendra Chahal was playing in any other team, he would always be in the XI: Harbhajan Singh

"If I were part of the management, I would definitely play him in the team, because we are all stakeholders of Indian cricket and we want the Indian Cricket Team to do well,” Harbhajan said.

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Yuzvendra Chahal Asia Cup 2018.
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Yuzvendra Chahal Asia Cup 2018. (Photo Source: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images)

Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh feels India have two players “missing” from their ODI World Cup squad in the form of Yuzvendra Chahal and Arshdeep Singh. 

India have gone with the left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel in addition to Kuldeep Yadav, the frontline wrist-spinner. In the pace department, Jasprit Bumrah is set to lead the attack alongside Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj, with all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur also included. The team has neither a left-arm seamer nor an off-spinner.

“In my opinion, there are two people missing in this team. First, Yuzvendra Chahal, and second, Arshdeep Singh,” said Harbhajan during a virtual press conference on Star Sports. “Because a left-arm seamer, if he can bring the new ball inside, it makes it useful in the game. If he can get two wickets early in the game, I’m not saying that right-handers can’t do that, but a left-hand seamer can get an actual angle to get the wicket. 

Labelling Chahal a "proven match-winner", Harbhajan said that the leg-spinner would have surely made it into the team if he were a part of the management. He suggested that India could have easily played a leg-spinner alongside a left-arm spinner, adding that the two left-arm spinners – Jadeja and Axar – will not be playing together. 

Harbhajan's observation makes sense given both the bowlers belong to the same variety, with India having played the two together in an ODI only eight times since the former's debut in 2014. In the coming World Cup, Jadeja will almost certainly get a nod ahead of Axar as the spin all-rounder at No. 7, with either Axar or Shardul making the cut for No. 8 based on the opponent and playing conditions.

“Yuzvendra Chahal, a proven match-winner, someone who has taken more wickets than any other spinner. If he was playing for any other country, I would think he would always be in the playing XI. But even after proving so much, I feel he should have been in the team. If I were part of the management, I would definitely play him in the team, because we are all stakeholders of Indian cricket and we want the Indian Cricket Team to do well,” he added.

“So, I believe these two guys are simply missed because we have selected two left-arm spinners who won’t be able to play together in the same match, but Jadeja and Chahal could play in the same match together. And if we have to face a lot of left-handers, then we need someone who can spin the ball outside as well. So, in my opinion, Yuzvendra Chahal and Arshdeep should have been in the team, and this is what will cause a lot of debate among everybody.”

Harbhajan also emphasized the utility a left-arm pacer adds to a bowling attack, recalling Mitchell Starc’s sensational run in the 2015 World Cup that Australia clinched at home. 

“You can see how Shaheen Shah Afridi or Mitchell Starc, they have a huge impact on the game. When Australia won the [2015] World Cup, Mitchell Starc had a huge impact on the games; he sent Brendon McCullum out on the first ball. Incoming ball, with that speed, coming into a right-hander is always challenging," he reckoned.

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