Harbhajan: Kuldeep, Chahal to make rested spinners’ comeback difficult

“At the moment, I don’t see them being replaced by Ashwin and Jaddu,” says the India off-spinner.

Kuldeep Yadav was the first Indian in 26 years to claim an ODI hat-trick.   -  AP

As chinaman Kuldeep Yadav mesmerised the Australian batsmen and spectators, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh recollected his own moment in spotlight 16 years ago.

Wahi opposition, wahi lamha, wahi ground aur ek spinner jiska age bhi utna (The same opposition, same ground, another spinner of the same age). Somehow as I was watching Kuldeep bowl, my mind travelled back to that afternoon (March, 2001) at the Eden Gardens. It is a great achievement,” Harbhajan told PTI.

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Harbhajan had taken a hat-trick against Australia in the famous second Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test as a 21-year-old. “For a young spinner, when you get a hat-trick early in your career, your confidence shoots up to a different level. This is a milestone which each and every cricketer savours for the rest of his life,” said Harbhajan.

“Eden Gardens never lets anyone return empty-handed. And this achievement will forever be etched in the history books,” said the 37-year-old who has more than 700 international wickets in his kitty.

‘Onerous task’

Harbhajan feels 22-year-old Kuldeep’s performance will make it harder for the team management to bring back R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the 50-over format. “It’s always a difficult thing. If your current two spinners are doing well, then it becomes difficult for the senior spinners to make a comeback. For Jaddu and Ashwin, it will be an onerous task to make a comeback in the ODI side,” Harbhajan observed.

“At the moment, these two boys (Kuldeep and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal) are really doing well and I don’t see them being replaced by Ashwin and Jaddu. You can’t predict what’s in store for the future,” he said.

“Wrist spinners have certain advantages which is not condition dependent. Chahal has a good googly and can get his leg breaks to turn sharply. Similarly, Kuldeep can also get it to turn both ways. His wrong ‘un is very effective. They have that x-factor required at the highest level,” explained Harbhajan.

‘Maturity beyond years’

When the two are bowling in tandem, their variation of pace through the air also makes it difficult for the opposition batsmen to pick it up, Harbhajan observed. “Both also bowl at different pace through the air. Kuldeep is a bit slower through the air while Chahal has a lower trajectory with slightly more pace on his deliveries. They complement each other well. They have maturity beyond years and I am impressed with their ability to read the situations.”

Harbhajan, however, added as a disclaimer: the 2019 World Cup was far away and it wasn’t possible to predict the team now. “See, I don’t know about the World Cup. World Cup is quite far away to be very honest but they are doing really well and I am really proud of them. Let’s all wait and watch, how far these guys can go and continue doing well for India. I wish them all the luck and hope both grow from strength to strength.”