Veteran offspinner Harbhajan Singh believes the much-awaited Pink-Ball Test between India and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens that gets underway on Friday, will not attract crowds to the stadium.
“I don’t see pink ball matches bringing a lot of people to the ground in India. You have to do something else, probably taking Test cricket to the smaller centres where people have not seen their heroes and have not seen action,” the Turbanator told PTI on Wednesday.
“For example, not playing in Mohali, taking the game to Amritsar, people will come irrespective of the format. Like Indore (first Test venue) was packed.”
Harbhajan said the crowds won’t come to the ground unless it is an even contest. “People say Ashes get the big crowds. They get the crowd because the quality of cricket is good. You can’t expect big crowds for an India-Bangladesh game or India-Zimbabwe game. You have to have two strong teams playing.
“Another big factor (in people staying away from stadiums) is that there is no infrastructure for public at stadiums in India. That is why a lot of people prefer watching the game at home. Something as basic as clean toilets, comfortable seating are not there.”
Meanwhile, the spin great reckons Ravichandran Ashwin deserves a comeback in India’s limited overs set-up as a reward for his recent exploits with the red ball.
“This is what I feel, if you are looking to bowl a spinner upfront (which Sundar has been doing in T20s), you rather have a wicket-taker which Ashwin is. Why not (give him a chance)? He has also done a good job with the red ball recently,” Harbhajan explained.
“Ashwin spins the ball, he has got more variations. Someone like a Sundar needs to learn. I want him to do well. I am all for blooding in youngsters but they must learn else they will be replaced, considering the stiff competition,” said the 39-year-old.
Ashwin last played a limited overs game for India in July 2017, following which he and Ravindra Jadeja were overlooked for the shorter formats with wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Chahal replacing the finger-spinners. Jadeja was able to make a comeback but Ashwin hasn’t.
Harbhajan, though, also believed that both Chahal and Kuldeep remain India’s best bet for providing breakthroughs.
“They are your wicket-takers. People who are wicket-takers will always be in the game, be it Kuldeep or Chahal or whoever.
“You need to ask the management (if they should be playing every game). They (management) probably want to see what combination works well for them but good to see Chahal back and hopefully Kuldeep will be back too. In my opinion, they are your two best options,” he said.