The Indian selector’s choice of the 15-member squad for Champions Trophy 2017 has been largely debated upon. The major talking point was the inclusion of an extra batsman in the squad to exclude a genuine third spinner. It is not clear why a certain Kuldeep Yadav or Harbhajan Singh weren’t selected. While they former’s contention may have been hampered by the lack of his experience, the latter, one of India’s finest and most experienced spinners, certainly deserved a spot. Here are 5 reasons why –
1. Harbhajan has been a key to Mumbai Indians’ consistency over the years. His personal best IPL seasons coincided with MI’s two title-winning seasons in 2013 and 2015. In 2013, he took 19 wickets in 16 league games and also contributed with the bat down the order. He has been a consistent performer throughout the ten years.
2. He did well in the Vijay Hazare domestic 50-over competition as well, claiming nine wickets from six games at four an over. This also adds to his resume to make his case stronger for having been in the Champions Trophy squad
3. Harbhajan has been terrific in IPL 2017. Conceding only 5.82 runs per over, the Turbanator has the best economy rate among bowlers have bowled at least five overs. No other spinner quite possesses the art of keeping the batsmen silent during powerplay overs in IPL as well as Harbhajan, and we are seeing this in every game Mumbai have played this season.
4. He proved his mettle when he was called to play against South Africa in 2015 as he ended as the second highest wicket-taker for India. But even after that, he never got the opportunity to play for India in ODIs again.
5. Harbhajan has played 15-16 years of top-level cricket along with other cricketing greats. He was a part of India’s 2002 Champions Trophy squad which shared the cup with Sri Lanka. The experience he would have carried with himself to England could have been a big boost to India’s quest of defending the title.
Prior to the announcement of the Champions Trophy squad, Harbhajan himself was hopeful of a ticket to England. “I am as hopeful and positive as any other player would be. IPL is a big platform and the “I am as hopeful and positive as any other player would be. IPL is a big platform and the performances here are taken note of. I have rarely missed any limited overs matches this season (be it Hazare Trophy or Syed Mushtaq Ali T20)” Harbhajan said.