Harbhajan Singh: India has the upper hand against a depleted Australian side

The Indian team, however, will still have to play its “best cricket” to secure a series win Down Under, says the former offspinner.

Harbhajan Singh takes a selfie during his interaction with kids at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad on Wednesday.   -  Nagara Gopal

Without Steve Smith and David Warner playing for Australia, India has a good chance of securing a series win Down Under, according to former India offspinner Harbhajan Singh.

On the sidelines of a Sports For All inter-school sports meet, where he interacted with the kids at Gachibowli Stadium here on Wednesday, Harbhajan contented Australia had seemingly lost half its side without these well-known players. He said, “But, yes, it might not [still] be a cakewalk for the Indian team. You have to play your best cricket still.”

Smith and Warner are in the middle of a ban imposed by Cricket Australia for their role in the ball-tampering scandal that erupted in March, 2018.

Read: Sourav Ganguly is 'worried' with the way CoA is running Indian cricket

On India's spin bowling combinations, Harbhajan said: “Honestly, it is a good competition among the bowlers. More options is also a good sign and also good for the coach. You have to pick the best combination for the given scenario. [Ravindra] Jadeja can bring a lot with his fielding and batting skills, Kuldeep [Yadav] has been a champion spinner and one of the top bowlers who took wickets, [Yuzvendra] Chahal has done quite well. They (team management and selectors) will have to see which combination works against the opposition for a particular series. In my view, all three should be part of the team at all time.”

Harbhajan praised India’s Ambati Rayudu, who has shone brightly in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) of late. “It was a matter of time he got into the groove, got the confidence, start delivering for the team,” he said.

‘The right sort of captain’

“Rayudu [has] now got the right sort of captain who is very much there for him to give him the desired support, which actually made him play the game he (Rayudu) loves,” Harbhajan said.

“Rayudu got the game for the best fast bowlers and is too good against the spinners. If [he] gets going, there is no stopping him and [he] should be a good No. 4 player who should play for India for a long, long time,” he felt.

Harbhajan voiced his disapproval, too, with regards to a few recent Indian selection calls. “I have issues with the selection panel. For instance, the way Karun Nair was dropped without playing him in any match like a few others. And, there are some in the team without doing anything,” Harbhajan said.

“Well, soon I am planning to write an autobiography detailing my journey into the cricketing world, the ups and downs I faced. [However,] I don’t think I am such a big player about whom a biopic can be made,” he concluded with a big smile.