Kuldeep Yadav is not a sure starter despite his excellent recent form as India will look for flexibility, Harbhajan Singh and Ravi Shastri discussed. The two former Team India stars also talked about combinations and adjusting the bowling attack according to the opposition.
Harbhajan picks Ashwin ahead of Kuldeep
Experienced off-spinner Ashwin will be playing his third World Cup after replacing the injured Axar Patel in the squad. Bhajji believes the 37-year-old should be the first-choice specialist spinner, ahead of Kuldeep Yadav who is the current first choice.
“People are realising that skill is more important. It’s not like an offspinner shouldn’t bowl to right-handers. Even I mentioned that Ashwin should play if the opposition has more left-handers, but that is what the management thinks?” Harbhajan said on ESPNcricinfo.
“But if I was captain of the team or part of management, I would pick my five best bowlers and Ashwin would be first or second on that list. If I had to pick today, it would be (Jasprit) Bumrah, (Mohammed) Shami, (Mohammed) Siraj, (Ravindra) Jadeja, Ashwin.”
Flexibility the key for Shastri in the World Cup
Ravi Shastri was also in this discussion with ESPNcricinfo and the former India coach also believes that Kuldeep’s place is not cemented. He went on to emphasize the need for having flexibility in the bowling lineup and acting according to conditions.
“You have to be flexible, I will go one step ahead and watch the oppositions and think how they will play whom. And now that Ashwin is in the 15, it makes a challenge for the XI all the time,” the 61-year-old claimed.
“Kuldeep is not a certainty unless he comes in and starts off brilliantly. Yes, there is no question about Kuldeep’s performance. He has been bowling at his best after a long time but on a certain day and on a certain track, if the pitch is dry, you would want only two fast bowlers because there is Hardik Pandya as well.”
Possible playing XI for India in their World Cup opener
There are a few scathing questions about India’s playing XI in the first match against Australia on 8 October. The composition of the middle order is a major question, along with the setup of the bowling lineup.
The top three are set in stone more or less, with Rohit, Gill and Kohli in top form. Rahul has secured the number 4 spot which prompts pushing Pandya into number 5 and playing SKY at no.6. Ravindra Jadeja is an auto choice at 7.
It gets tricky in bowling though but we go with the bold approach of playing Shami, Siraj and Bumrah together with Kuldeep Yadav the specialist spinner. While this leaves a long tail, it gives the team sufficient firepower to rip through the opposition batting lineup.