Earlier this week, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced a 15-member squad that will take part in the upcoming ODI World Cup in October-November. One of the biggest talking points was the inclusion of T20 superstar Suryakumar Yadav. While the Mumbai batter has been phenomenal in the shortest format of the game, his numbers in ODI cricket are quite ordinary by his lofty standards. Sanju Samson was in the race for grabbing a middle-order spot, but Suryakumar was eventually chosen ahead of him.
Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh, however, said that the selectors did the right thing by picking Suryakumar in the side instead of Sanju. According to the legendary off-spinner, Suryakumar is the more reliable choice for playing the role of a middle-order batter. Harbhajan stated that batting at No. 5 or 6 can be a difficult proposition but the 32-year-old can play that role better than the likes of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.
“I feel Suryakumar Yadav is a complete, complete player. I don’t think the selectors have been harsh on Sanju Samson. I do feel Sanju is a very very good player, a quality player. But you can only select fifteen players. But picking Suryakumar over Sanju is the right call. Because the game that Suryakumar has in the middle over[s], I don’t think Sanju has that game. Even he goes for big shots from the first ball, but the reliability Suryakumar gives you – he can score big. Sanju I feel plays the kind of cricket where there is a lot of chances that you get out,” Harbhajan said in a chat organised by Star Sports.
“Whereas Suryakumar, I know a lot of people ask what has he done in ODIs, but what he has done in T20s, if his innings is only going to be that long then I feel in that position, there isn’t a better player than Suryakumar in India. What he can do at that position, neither Virat [Kohli] can do, nor Sanju or Rohit Sharma. Because what he does it’s a difficult job, batting at [No.] 5-6. What [MS] Dhoni has done, what Yuvi [Yuvraj Singh] has done.”
After playing 53 T20Is, Suryakumar averages 46.02 and has a strike rate of 172.7. However, in the 26 ODI matches he has played, the right-hander has an average of only 24.33. He strikes at 101.39 but the inconsistency is something that worries Indian cricket fans.