Harbhajan deserves to play in all formats: Ganguly

The Indian off-spinner was named in the side for the Twenty20 World Cup.

New Delhi, (IANS):
Former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly feels that off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has been kept away from the national team for too long and he deserves to play for it in all three formats.

Harbhajan was named in the side for the Twenty20 World Cup earlier in the month and Ganguly thinks the selectors should recall him for the Tests and One-day Internationals (ODI).

"I feel he is still one of the top-three spinners in India. He should not have been out for more than six months. He has been playing domestic cricket for too long now. Someone who has almost 700 international wickets to his name would walk into any side," Ganguly said of the spinner, who last played for India in July 2011.

Ganguly said the selectors could have handled the issue better.

"The selectors should have spoken to him and told him that 'we are giving you six months to improve your bowling' and that should have sorted out the matter. You are bound to have a bad season after playing for India for almost 14 years," he added.

Harbhajan has taken 406 Test wickets, 259 scalps in ODIS and captured 18 in T20 Internationals.

Ganguly apprehensive about Yuvraj's comeback

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly is nervously hoping for Yuvraj Singh's success in the Twenty20 World Cup and says two Internationals against New Zealand before the mega event should give a fair idea of how much the southpaw has recovered from cancer.

"The two matches against New Zealand will give us an idea of how much he has recovered. It would be wrong if I say I am not worried about his health. However, I am really happy that he has come back from a tough phase. I am sure he must be thrilled too," said Ganguly at a promotional event for the World T20 beginning in Sri Lanka Sep 18.

Many former cricketers, including Ganguly, had raised fears about Yuvraj's fitness in the wake of his surprise selection in the T20 side announced earlier in the month.

Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjerekar, who also attended the event, said Yuvraj's presence will inspire the team.

"Let's be honest, it was an emotional decision to bring him back. It is difficult to imagine the trauma he has gone through. But the good thing is that he has shown eagerness to come back and will certainly boost the team's morale," said Manjrekar.

Yuvraj will get the chance of some serious match practice in the two matches against New Zealand scheduled Sep 8 and 11. The World T20 will take place in Sri Lanka from Sep 18 to Oct 12.

Ganguly picks India World T20 favourites, Windies dark horses

Sourav Ganguly said India have the firepower to win the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka next month and chose the West Indies as the dark horses. "When you have players like Virat Kohli, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh it is very difficult to count India out.

There is a lot of firepower there," said the former India captain.

Asked about Piyush Chawla and Lakshmipathy Balaji's selection, Ganguly quipped that Chawla is proving to be a lucky mascot as India won the World Cup with him in the squad. As for Balaji, he said, the Tamil Nadu medium-pacer bowled exceedingly well in Pakistan under his captaincy and he looked good playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League last season.

"India have most things going in their favour. The tournament is going to be held in the sub-continent and they will be confident after their performance in the one-day series in Sri Lanka. Having said that, the tournament format is short and India are in a tough group," said Ganguly, adding that it will be difficult to stop India if Sehwag fires at the top.

India are pooled with Afghanistan and England in the group stages and will need to win seven matches to get their hands on the trophy for the second time.

Talking about the other teams, Ganguly sai, "The West Indies are a powerhouse. They are very dangerous in the shortest format with the presence of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Dwayne Smith and they have pacers who bowl at 150 kmph plus.

In addition, they have a very talented spinner in Sunil Narine. South Africa are also a good side and are rightly ranked the top test team. England have the advantage of having a world class spinner in Graeme Swann, though they are bound to miss Kevin Pietersen," said he.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar, also part of the channel's commentary team, agreed with Ganguly about the West Indies beiung the dark horse.

"As Ganguly said, the West Indies look a formidable unit. They have a good chance of winning the competition as it is a bit of a lottery. Considering the format, there are bound to be upsets and surprises," said Manjrekar talking about the tight scheduling of the 27 matches involving 12 teams.

The World T20 runs from Sep 18 to Oct 12.