Harbhajan Singh has been around the Indian team, but he is not a permanent member now © AFP
Harbhajan Singh has been around the Indian team, but he is not a permanent member now © AFP

The selectors would not have anticipated such performances from the Indian cricket team in their ongoing tour of Australia. The Indian cricket team was a blend of youth as well as experienced cricketers for the ODI series, which was handed a 1-4 thrashing by Australia. India are free to feel that they would have ended as winners had it been their own backyard even if they had same set of players, but the fact remains that the room for development continues to exist in the Indian camp. In their build-up for ICC World T20 2016, the Indian selectors had surprisingly called upon the likes of the young Hardik Pandya, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra, and Harbhajan Singh for the T20 leg of the Australian tour, perhaps thinking of putting them through a stern test to check their firepower ahead of the tournament.  Live Cricket Scorecard: India vs Australia, Live Score, 1st T20I match at Adelaide

The series can be labelled as another exercise in the build-up to the ICC World T20 2016, which India are hosting for the very first time. Both India and Australia are expected to make experiments in order to achieve momentum and team balance as per their liking. There will be strange team selections, and even stranger strategies as these are the occasions when the teams try and ensure that they end up trying everything — including mistakes — to achieve what can be termed as perfect balance. India vs Australia 2015-16 1st T20I at Adelaide: India keen to make winning start

Nehra had complained earlier about selectors probably not liking his face, for he was ignored for a long time despite impressing one and all. Nehra is no more angry; the left-arm pacer can be seen with a wide grin in all photographs emerging from Australia, as he is gearing up for what could be the final leg of his career. Nehra has been in splendid form in the Indian domestic circuit, especially in the IPL, and his exploits have thrown him back in the mix.

Yuvraj Singh’s has been a curious case ever since his return to the cricket field. He has made runs in domestic cricket, but outings in the IPL have not been as per the expectations. This time too Yuvraj is coming off rigorous outings for Punjab in the domestic circuit, and once again he is promising runs and wickets. Most importantly, the experience that he and the others — Raina, Nehra and Harbhajan — will get to the Indian cricket team will be invaluable in current circumstances. While Suresh Raina has spent his time away from the team making amends, it will be crucial for him to prove his mettle once again.

Amidst all, there is Harbhajan Singh, who has been in and out of the Indian cricket team. Harbhajan was in Sri Lanka, going unnoticed (1 wicket in 1 Test) when India wrapped up a 2-1 win. He was in the home series against South Africa, where he bowled 4 wicketless overs to contain the tourists for 20 runs in the one-off T20I, and 6 wickets in 4 ODIs that followed. He was not a part a part of the Test side.

While Harbhajan has been awarded opportunities time and again by the Indian selectors, the senior spinner has failed to make strong impressions. He is certainly not the same dominant spinner who would snaffle wickets at regular intervals; but Harbhajan has reduced into someone who can contain the opposition. Is this what the Indians are expecting from their ace spinner?

The other question is whether India are taking this series only as an opportunity to examine men who can help them win the ICC World T20 2016, or to win in Australia. Forming a two-pronged spin attack — the other being Ravichandran Ashwin — can work in favour if they are able to contain the Australian batsmen. But then again, Ashwin has been out of favour of late.

The third and the last question is a pretty intriguing one. The Australian pitches do not favour the spinners, example being the performance of their ace spinner Nathan Lyon in the last 2 ODIs. Lyon returned after a long gap to take only 1 wicket in the last 2 ODIs, which showed how tough it can get for the spinners.

If India are expecting Harbhajan and Ashwin to team up and contain the Australians in the three upcoming T20Is, then it certainly sounds as an interesting plan. But putting either of them alone in front of the hard-hitting Australian batsmen can be a bad idea.

(Devarchit Varma is senior writer with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)