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Harbhajan Singh bats for Rishabh Pant’s inclusion in ODI team

Harbhajan also defended Dhoni and expects him to be back to his best soon enough.

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh wants the selectors and the Indian team management to include wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant in the ODI squad. Harbhajan’s comments came after India’s middle-order failed to deliver once again with their latest failure costing India the opening ODI against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday. The middle-order has been India’s weak link for quite some time now.

Chasing 288, India made a horrendous start to their chase, losing Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Ambati Rayudu for just 4 runs. Opener Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni then managed to stop the rot. Rohit found a stable partner in Dhoni but as the latter struggled to score at a brisk pace and eventually got out while the team was far from the target. Dhoni never looked like upping the ante and departed after scoring 51 off 96.

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The likes of Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja and the tail-enders failed to make an impact either as India could only manage 254 despite Rohit scoring 133. Indian middle-order’s latest show has once again made it to the news for all the wrong reasons. With the middle-order batsman showing little signs of improvement, Harbhajan feels bolstering the squad by adding Pant could be one solution.

The highly-rated wicketkeeper-batsman made his ODI debut in India’s last 50-overs assignment which was against Windies at home. However, he was dropped for the ongoing series as well as the upcoming one against New Zealand. Bhajji is of the view that Pant could be an X-factor for India in the middle-order and his power-hitting abilities could solve the team’s middle-order conundrum.

“Rishabh Pant has that X-factor in him, which Adam Gilchrist had. He has the potential to hit six sixes…I am not talking about six sixes in an over but if he plays 30 balls he has the ability to hit at least six sixes, which can be game-changing,” Harbhajan was quoted as saying by India Today.

“I think Rishabh Pant is a must in the Indian team because if we lose three early wickets, we need to have a power-hitter lower down the order. I think his inclusion will not only strengthen India’s batting line-up but also fix the middle-order issues,” he added.

Pant recently impressed in the Test series against Australia. The southpaw finished the series as the second highest run-scorer, scoring 350 runs including a majestic unbeaten ton in Sydney.

Harbhajan defends Dhoni

Dhoni, meanwhile, is facing the heat for playing a slow knock once again. However, Harbhajan backed his India and IPL teammate to bounce back and that it is only a matter of time before Dhoni is back to his best.

“India have potential in the middle order. We can’t say Rayudu and Dhoni don’t have potential. Dhoni has won many matches for India in the past. Yes, he has struggled in the recent past and I feel he must get back to form. The way he batted in the IPL 2018 was brilliant. He needs to get that form back and the day he does that, I don’t think we will need to worry a lot about the middle order. He needs to shift his gear and the day he does that the middle order issues will be sorted,” he said.

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