The national selectors might have given the likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan a lifeline by picking them in the India A squad for the series against West Indies A, but one man left out is Harbhajan Singh.
Although the series against West Indies A and the N.K.P. Salve Challenger Trophy clashes with the Champions League T20, Harbhajan could have easily been picked for three one-day matches, from September 12 to 19, before joining Mumbai Indians for the Twenty20 tournament starting on September 21.
But the writing seems to be on the wall and unless Harbhajan does something extraordinary in the next Ranji season, it is the end of the road for a spinner who tormented batsmen across the world to pick 413 wickets in 101 Test matches and 259 wickets in 229 ODI matches.
What definitely went against Harbhajan was that while all the other discarded senior players have been sweating it out, the off-spinner last represented India was in the second Test against Australia in the series in March.
While Gambhir has been playing county cricket for Essex, Sehwag has been fine-tuning his batting skills at the MRF Pace Foundation.
Even Yuvraj and Zaheer have left no stone unturned to ensure they are in peak shape by undergoing fitness training in France for more than 40 days.
Former spinner Erapalli Prasanna told Mail Today that it will be highly unlikely for Harbhajan to return to the Indian team, although he believes the tweaker should be given one last opportunity to prove himself.
“I think it is really unfortunate that he wasn’t given one final chance. I do believe that he should have got it. But looking at how things stand, until and unless a miracle happens, I don’t see him returning to the team. He needs to pick plenty of wickets in the domestic season if at all he wants to pass a message to the selectors. It looks like the focus at present is on the shorter versions of the game,” Prasanna said.
Maninder Singh agreed, but felt Harbhajan has himself to blame for the current situation.
“If he doesn’t show keenness to sweat it out like some other senior guys, I don’t see any reason why the selectors should go out of their way to pick him. While all the seniors have been trying to impress the selectors and convey the message that they want to be picked, where has Harbhajan been? I don’t really know what he is thinking. If he doesn’t show the zeal, it is definitely the end of the road,” Maninder told Mail Today.
Former India spinner Venkatapathy Raju feels that R. Ashwin has eclipsed Harbhajan as India’s numero uno spinner and things are only going to be more difficult for the Turbanator from here on.
“The youngsters have handled the pressure really well and to be fair, Ashwin has overtaken Harbhajan as the frontline spinner. I don’t know what the selectors are thinking, but he has to do something astonishing next season in domestic cricket, if he has to make a comeback,” Raju said.
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved
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