2017 ICC Champions Trophy | BCCI | Harbhajan Singh | MS Dhoni |

2017 ICC Champions Trophy: Harbhajan Expresses Unhappiness over Non-Selection

Harbhajan Singh, India
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

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It is a dream for every player to go out and play for the team. Veteran India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh let his frustrations known at not being considered for selection for the Indian squad for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy in England by launching a scathing attack on the BCCI selectors.

The 36-year-old was irate because of the reason given for Dhoni’s by selection committee head MSK Prasad that the former Indian skipper’s presence and vast experience means so much more to the team than what his dwindling numbers might suggest.

Harbhajan feels that the same yardstick should have been applied to himself as well as Gambhir, who have maintained consistency in performances over the years in a major tournament like the IPL.

Despite being a consistent performer in the 2017 IPL for Mumbai Indians (he was the most economical among the MI bowlers giving away just 6.48 runs in an over) Harbhajan was overlooked for the younger Karn Sharma by the eventual champions for the Qualifier as well as the Final.

“Obviously frustrating when you’re sitting out and watching the game and it is something which is out of your control,” he said.
“Till last year, I was part of the management that used to pick the playing XI. But this time I needed to spend time with my family. I respect the management’s decision. I won’t cry about this. I am a team man. Mahela (Jayawardene) spoke to me about a lot of right-handers in the Pune team so they want to play a leg-spinner but whatever wickets I’ve taken, whether it’s Test cricket or One-day cricket or T20s, it was mostly against right-handers.”

He also lamented about the significance of the IPL, questioning whether the performances in the T20 tournament counted for anything considering how the likes of himself, as well as KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir, have been consistently overlooked when it came to selection for Team India.

Upon suggestions that their not-so-impressive-fielding may be the reasons behind their non-selection, Harbhajan commented that he will be more than satisfied if anyone from the selection committee reached out to him explaining the reason why he was not even considered as an option.

“Why do we play such tournaments (IPL)? We play to get selected to play for India. If people are doing well. Let’s talk about Gautam Gambhir. He has the most number of runs consistently. If I talk about myself, yes, you know we all were hoping that we might be somewhere in the mix,” Harbhajan said on Thursday (May 25).
“But knowing that in my scenario I knew that If Ashwin will be fit then he will be there in the team and if he is not then I have a chance.”
The 36-year-old also revealed there has been no communication between him and the selectors regarding the areas he needs to work on to be back in contention. 
“See if someone comes and tells me that this is one thing that is lacking in you that’s the reason you’re not there in the squad but nobody has told me,” he pointed out.
“There is no communication. If someone tells me this is how fit we need you to be, at the end I want to play for India so I will work on it. I don’t know my weakness because nobody has spoken to me. None of the selectors, no one actually. But I’ve always felt that when I do I get somewhere so I’m working hard and I’m sure I’ll get somewhere.”

While Harbhajan’s frustration is understandable, it was needless to drag the names of his longtime teammates MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir in making these controversial statements. The team selection is based on a number of permutations and combinations and unfortunately, in Harbhajan’s case, it is not in his favour with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in prime form at the moment.

Like Yuvraj Singh has proved with his comeback, Harbhajan still has sufficient time left to make his way back as well and he should focus on maintaining his fitness and let the ball do the talking for him.

With age not on his side, time is running out for the veteran off-spinner to add to his impressive tally of 711 international wickets. With the IPL done and dusted, Harbhajan will look to return to domestic cricket with Punjab and keep up the performances he has given recently and perhaps force the Indian selectors to give him yet another crack at Team India.

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