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This Indian team needs more match-winners: Harbhajan

Mumbai, April 23 (IANS) Veteran India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Thursday said the current Indian team lacks a match-winner down the order and is too dependent on Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.

“This team is too dependent on Virat and you (Rohit). After Virat and you are gone, we lose 70 percent of the matches. Lower down the order few (players are there who can) win matches,” Harbhajan said during an Instagram chat with India limited overs vice-captain Rohit.

“During our time, we had the trust that someone will make runs even after top three is out, taaki match na nikal jaaye haath se (match does not slip out of our hands). This is one area I think this team can work on. You need to find more match-winners,” said Harbhajan, India’s third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket.

“Like you (Rohit) had great World Cup (2019). But one had a great World Cup and we reach the semi-finals. Had we got three who did well in the World Cup, we could have won”

The ace offie, who helped India win the 2011 50-over World Cup, also heaped praise on K.L. Rahul saying he is another match-winner besides Virat and Rohit and can bat anywhere in the order.

“Apart from you (Rohit) and Virat, K.L. Rahul is a real match-winner. He can play at No. 5, No. 6 and can open as well,” said the Turbanator, as he is fondly called.

Harbhajan also urged the team management to give longer ropes to players who can then express themselves better.

“They play well in the IPL but I don’t see them playing like that for the national team. They are a totally different player in IPL. I think they are scared of their place being gone. If you give them a run of 9-10 games, they have a better chance to succeed,” said the 39-year old.

“Same in Tests also. The team won in Australia we played well in India too. But in New Zealand you (Rohit) were injured, Prithvi Shaw was brought back which is a good thing. My concern is someone like Shubman Gill..he was in team from before. Now Rohit is a successful Test opener. But Gill…if he is not playing it is not healthy for him and the team as well. So he has to get a chance. It is not just for Gill I am saying.”

Harbhajan also said it is good to see Shreyas Iyer doing well at No. 4 and the team management has done well by giving him a long rope.

On M.S. Dhoni making a comeback to the Indian team, he said: “When I was in Chennai Super Kings camp, people asked me about Dhoni. I don’t know its upto him. You need to know whether he wants to play for India again.

“As far as I know him, he won’t want to wear India blue again. IPL he will play but for India I think he had decided World Cup (2019) was his last.”

Harbhajan, who now plays for CSK but has also turned out for Mumbai Indians, said while the former are a chilled out unit under Dhoni, the pressure of expectation is there in MI.

“It is a chilled out setup here. MI… we were under pressure that you need to win. There was pressure of expectation always.”

Harbhajan also named the likes of Jacques Kallis, Mathew Hayden, Brian Lara, Younis Khan, and Inzamam-ul-Haq as the foreign batters he found it tough against.

As far as the best spinners are concerned, he named Nathan Lyon, Muttiah Muralitharan, Graeme Swann and Saqlain Mushtaq among those that come to his mind.

–IANS

dm/bbh

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