India become too tight in big games, need to play fearlessly to win titles: Harbhajan Singh
Jun 09, 2023
Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh reckons the current team has not shown the fearlessness that one needs to win ICC titles and fielding four seamers in the World Test Championship final was a bit "too much".
Having come short in ICC knockout games on numerous occasions since winning their last trophy in 2013, India find themselves in a hole in the WTC final against Australia.
Harbhajan, who is here as a commentator, observed the players become "too tight" in high pressure games and advised them not to worry about the results.
"There is nothing lacking (in terms of skills). The more you play the big games the better you get. I feel you need to play more freely in these big games. I think we have become a bit too tight. Will have to play more freely and not think about the results.
"The more you leave the players to do the job, they will do the job. If you put pressure on them that if you don't perform well, some get dropped and some don't (they will feel underconfident).
"The idea is to give them confidence that even if you don't do well, give your best. That way we will probably lift a few cups. Just play fearlessly," the two-time World Cup winner told PTI at The Oval.
Maybe management factored conditions only on day 1 before selecting team. World's number one Test bowler Ravichandran Ashwin had to sit out of the game as India went into the final with four seamers and a spinner in Ravindra Jadeja.
India had got the combination wrong in the WTC final couple of years ago as well and it seems they have erred on this occasion too.
"The game is for five days so you have to choose your bowlers according to those five days. Ashwin is a proven performer, four seamers are a bit too much. Day four, day five are as important as day one. It is also important how you finish the race.
"May be the management did not think too much about it and went ahead with four seamers which is way too many. It was still understandable if someone of the caliber of Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami was sitting out, then it would have still been okay (to play four pacers)," said the former off-spinner.
Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur did not look at their best in the first innings of the game while Siraj and Shami got more out of the surface.
"Maybe management thought the conditions were more in favour of the seamers. You needed to take a call between Shardul or Ashwin. It is hard on Ashwin to sit out even after taking so many wickets.
"Would have been better to play Ashwin and play two-spinners instead of four seamers, even though wicket was green on day one," he opined.
Harbhajan added by saying that the over reliance on Siraj and Shami does not help the team's cause.
"It has come down to the captain's confidence also. The captain had more confidence in Shami and Siraj, they were bowing really well in the IPL also.
"Umesh did not play much coming into this game and same with Shardul. Less bowling did not solve the cause," added Harbhajan.