Harbhajan Singh picks his Indian XI for clash against Pakistan; no place for Ashwin and Harshal

Harbhajan Singh has picked his favorite team India XI for the 2022 T20 World Cup opening match against Pakistan on Sunday 23 October in Melbourne.

The Men in Blue defeated Australia in their first warm-up game before the six-round global event. Their second and final warm-up game against New Zealand on Wednesday 19 October was a rain shower.

During a discussion on Star Sports, Harbhajan was asked to pick his Indian side for the crunch game against Pakistan. He answered:

“I think the team is straightforward. I think Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik and Axar Patel will be in the team. Yuzi Chahal will play with them. After that Arshdeep Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami.”

The former India nut believes Harshal Patel, Deepak Hooda and Ravichandran Ashwin will have to wait on the sidelines for now. He said:

“That’s my pick. Harshal Patel might not get a chance. I don’t think Deepak Hooda and R. Ashwin will get a chance in the first couple of games. I see that as a starting XI.”

Aside from the above players, Rishabh Pant is the other member of India’s 15-man squad not to feature in Harbhajan’s chosen XI.

“Shami’s role becomes even greater when Bumrah is absent” – Harbhajan Singh

Mohammad Shami has been included in the India squad to replace Jasprit Bumrah.
Mohammad Shami has been included in the India squad to replace Jasprit Bumrah.

Harbhajan wants Mohammad Shami to take on more responsibility in Jasprit Bumrah’s absence due to a back injury. He stated:

“Shami getting fit bodes well for the Indian team. The bowler style he has, his experience is very important on the big stage. Shami’s role will be even bigger with Bumrah not there. We hope that he meets those expectations.”

Harbhajan was also asked if Ashwin could be included in the XI given the success Michael Bracewell had against the Men in Green in the last Tri-Series. He denied this with the reason:

“I don’t think R Ashwin will get a chance because the hit with Axar Patel’s presence looks a little long. When Axar Patel isn’t playing you can’t count on R Ashwin’s shot in T20Is that much, he’s good in the longest format.”

Axar Patel is likely a certainty in India’s active XI. Ashwin could make the team at the expense of Yuzvendra Chahal if team management wants to go with a slightly more defensive spinner and added depth of shot.

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Edited by Sai Krishna

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