Will Harbhajan be the 17th player for Oz tour?

November 25th, 2011 - 9:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh Mumbai, Nov 25 (IANS) Harbhajan Singh’s omission from the ODI team for the first three matches against West Indies is perhaps an indication that the off-spinner will not be on the plane to Australia next month.

The selectors, who will pick the squad for the tour Down Under Saturday, will find it difficult to fit him in, more so after Ravichandran Ashwin’s all-round showing in the ongoing third Test.

The only thing that can go in Harbhajan’s favour is his knack of getting under the skin of Australians and his record against them. But his figures in domestic cricket seem to go against him. Including Harbhajan means taking two off-spinners and leaving out in-form left-arm Pragyan Ojha.

In any case, three spinners in the squad for Australia will be too much of a luxury as they will have to carry an extra pacer. They would definitely be wiser after the England tour when injuries forced them to rush bowlers calling them from a holiday.

As for the fast bowlers, Zaheer Khan will be a provisional selection as he has to prove his fitness in the two Ranji Trophy matches he intends to play and also the two warm-up matches in Canberra.

Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron look more or less certainties. For the extra paceman’s slot the contenders are Praveen Kumar, who had exceptional tours to West Indies and England, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Jaydev Unadkat. The selectors might also look at Irfan Pathan, who has had two five-wicket hauls in the Ranji Trophy, as a possibility in view of his ability to contribute runs in the lower order.

The batsmen — Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, V.V.S. Laxman, Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, select themselves. The eighth batsmen’s position a toss up between the two Mumbaikars Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane. For the second wicketkeeper-batsman, both Parthiv Patel and Wriddhimann Saha are in good form with the bat. There is a school of thought that thinks the better keeper between the two should go.

If either Harbhajan or another paceman has to be accomodated then it has to be a 17-member squad and there is a possibility of it consedring it is a long tour of four Tests, two Twenty20s and a tri-series involving India, Australia and Sri Lanka.

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