Axar Patal or Kuldeep Yadav? Harbhajan Singh Reasons ‘If it’s a Rank Turner, India Should Go With…’

Last Updated: January 22, 2024, 18:33 IST

India's Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav (AFP)

India’s Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav (AFP)

If India decide to play three spinners, this is who Harbhajan Singh wants between Axar Patal and Kuldeep Yadav to join the pair of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

India host England in the first of the five-match Test series at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium starting Thursday.

If the Indian team management under Rahul Dravid follow the “rank turner” template, something that has troubled tomost touring sides in the longest format of the game, former Harbhajan Singh feels three spinners are a given.

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When asked about who he preferes should play, he said: “Look, the way I look at it that when both R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are in playing eleven and you are looking at a third specialist spinner, it should be Kuldeep.”

“Because Kuldeep as a wrist spinner will bring that variation. But I believe Axar’s selection in Test matches is purely on his batting skills. At No 8 or 9, he can bat and that’s what he brings to the table,” Harbhajan, who is currently in Dubai, added.

Kuldeep has got to play only eight Tests since making his debut against Australia in 2017 andf Harbhajan explained his decision.

“While Axar brings his superior batting to the table (compared to Kuldeep), I don’t see a logic why you need a superior batter at No. 9 when his skill-sets are completely identical with that of Jadeja’s.

“You are then taking the aspect of variation out of equation. So for me, ideally, Kuldeep should play,” he reasoned.

Harbhajan also explained the twin-fold reason why Axar will be first preference when the ball turns square.

“If you look at our batting performances on rank turners, you would know that we haven’t also done very well. Our batting also could struggle if there is excessive turn and hence you then want a longer tail and that’s where Axar comes into effect with his batting.

“Now coming to the bowling. On turners, you need a “target shooter”. One who would just keep on bowling wicket to wicket, hitting more or less same length over after over.

“On turners, you won’t need to turn or show variations to get wickets. When it comes to that discipline, Axar is fantastic at target hitting and hence he remains favourite,” Harbhajan added.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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