'He was missed in Asia Cup': Harbhajan's out-of-the box preference in response to Rohit Sharma's 'Ashwin' WC remark
Harbhajan Singh did not pay heed to the remark on Ashwin made by Rohit as he made an out-of-the-box suggestion to replace Axar.
Team India on Saturday, the eve of the Asia Cup final, were hit by the news of Axar Patel having incurred a major injury. He later missed the match against Sri Lanka with Washington Sundar being added to the squad in the last moment and later to the playing XI as well. India skipper Rohit Sharma, post the Asia Cup win by 10 wickets in Colombo, revealed that India Axar will miss the first two matches of the Australia home series later this week. He further added that with a spin all-rounder spot still vacant in the Indian World Cup side, Ravivhandran Ashwin go get a green signal for the post. But bowling legend Harbhajan Singh did not pay heed to the remark made by Rohit as he made an out-of-the-box suggestion to replace Axar.
Axar had suffered a left quadriceps strain during the inconsequential Super Four match of Asia Cup against Bangladesh on Friday and hence was ruled out of the final. Sundar was later drafted in as a replacement. Rohit later revealed that MRI scans had indicated a tear which could take more than 10 days to heal.
"Axar had a small tear. It looks like maybe it will take a week or 10 days (to heal), I don’t know. We have to see how that injury progresses. Some guys recover quickly, and I hope that’s the case with him," Rohit didn't seem too confident about the speed of recovery for the Gujarat all-rounder. "I am not sure whether he will be able to play the first two games against Australia at home. But we will wait and see."
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And while Sundar, who did not bowl or bat in the final, was picked in the XI on Sunday, Rohit added that Ashwin, who hasn't played in the format since January 2022, stands in the scheme of things to bag that vacant spin bowling all-rounder role in the World Cup squad.
"As a spinner-all-rounder, Ashwin is in the line. I have been talking to him on the phone. The injury happened to Axar at the last minute. Washington was available, so he had to come and perform the role for us," said Rohit.
However, Harbhajan, in conversation with Sports Today, hours before the squad announcement for the ODI series against Australia, admitted that he would rather pick Yuzvendra Chahal, opining that his services were missed during the Asia Cup.
"I would like to bring Yuzvendra Chahal instead of any other player. He is a proven player, a match winner. He was the one who was missed in the tournament," he said.
The 2011 World Cup winner also added that Sundar should have been picked in the original 15 for the World Cup as well in a bid to add more variety to the bowling attack.
"I wish India had selected Sundar in the original 15 for the World Cup then we would have had another variation in the bowling department," he said.