Tuesday, April 9, 2024

“Tough Road Awaits”: Harbhajan Singh Wants Team India To “Stick By” Player

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Harbhajan Singh: expects that the player can get a few early wickets and make it a different ball game, When Kuldeep Yadav had gone for a skier during a Kolkata Knight Riders practice session in the UAE last September, little did he know that within seconds his world would come crashing down with a twisted knee. Those present at the Dubai training facility were horrified seeing his condition as he lay there writhing in pain, waiting to be stretchered out. In a week’s time, he underwent a major knee surgery in Mumbai, which cast doubts on how long it would take for him to get fit for competitive cricket.

He visited Mathura with his family on Thursday to offer prayers on his comeback, for Kuldeep really needed some divine intervention to make his way back into the Indian team.

Otherwise, all that he could have done was to wait at home to hear from the BCCI if it would hold the now-postponed Ranji Trophy, where he was supposed to lead Uttar Pradesh.

“It will be a very tough road ahead for Kuldeep. He hasn’t had any proper domestic games under his belt and it’s not easy to make an international comeback just like that,” one of India’s greatest spinners, Harbhajan Singh, told PTI when asked about his expectations.

“He wasn’t playing regularly before surgery and when you are making a comeback in white ball, the first thing that’s at the back of your mind is ‘I don’t want to get hit’.

“So it’s like striking a balance as you are naturally dealing with a lot of insecurities. It’s a test of mental fortitude,” said Harbhajan, who saw Kuldeep from close quarters at KKR nets.

But Kuldeep has the skills and the ‘Turbanator’ expects that the player can get a few early wickets and make it a different ball-game.

“Let me make it clear. If he gets a couple of early wickets, he will be a different bowler but things may not go as per plan. It might take some time for him to get back the rhythm.

“My only suggestion would be that stick with him since you have shown conviction based on his past performances and give him enough time and confidence. He is a man who can deliver the goods for India,” said the holder of 700-plus international wickets.

The national selectors made an exception for him as he is one of the rare cricketers who is coming back without having to prove his match-fitness as there is no domestic cricket at the moment.

The rub of green finally seems to be going Kuldeep’s way after enduring rough times as his exclusion from the playing XI wasn’t always a cricketing one during the earlier regime of Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri.

Call it India’s bare spin cupboard and injuries or poor form of some elite spinners, the fact is that the 27-year-old Kanpur man is back in the national mix after an eventful near three years.

During this period, he was first called, “India’s No. 1 overseas spinner” by Shastri after a five-wicket haul in Sydney, only to not play a single Test in the next two years.

It didn’t help that some unwanted individuals were spreading canards about him to people close to the team management and no one knows if that had an adverse effect on his chances.

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