Bhuvneshwar Kumar (left) and Ajinkya Rahane © AFP
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (left) and Ajinkya Rahane © AFP

Ajinkya Rahane’s omission from the first two Tests of India’s tour of South Africa has been a raging debate. Captain Virat Kohli has been criticised by experts and former cricketers for benching the vice-captain who has been India’s best overseas batsman in recent times. However, he received support from off-spinner Harbhajan Singh who feels there is no guarantee that India would have done better if Rahane had played.

“I was checking a few stats. Under Virat, Ajinkya’s average is less than 40 over 30 Tests. Also last one year he didn’t score that many runs. What if Ajinkya played and India were down 0-2, then would we have said that please bring Rohit. One needs to understand the captain’s point of view also,” Harbhajan told PTI.

Rahane averages 42.33 from the 30 Tests he has played under Kohli. Under MS Dhoni, he has played 12 Tests and scored runs at 45.90. He has also scored at a higher strike-rate under Dhoni.

Though Harbhajan feels that Rahane’s omission was a 50-50 call, he did not support the decision to exclude Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The pacer was India’s best performer in the Cape Town Test, claiming 6 wickets and also playing the most number of balls.

Manoj Prabhakar slams Team India's selection; calls Ajinkya Rahane, Bhuvneshwar Kumar exclusions 'shameful'
Manoj Prabhakar slams Team India's selection; calls Ajinkya Rahane, Bhuvneshwar Kumar exclusions 'shameful'

“Bhuvi is a bigger match-winner in today’s date compared to Ishant Sharma. Whenever Bhuvi has performed, India have done well. I still believe all is not lost. We can bounce back and make it 2-1 in Johannesburg,” Harbhajan added.

Harbhajan is an experienced campaigner and has played 4 Tests in South Africa in between 2001-02 and 2010-11 seasons and taken 18 wickets at 34. He concluded in a positive note.

“My advice to the team would be to remain positive. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. So we should go for it,” he concluded.