Kuldeep Yadav has played only eight Tests since his debut in 2017, making him one of the unluckiest Indian cricketers. In the upcoming England series starting on January 25, if the Indian team chooses pitches that favor spin, Kuldeep might not play initially.
Harbhajan Singh believes that while Kuldeep has better skills than the left-arm spinner Axar, Axar’s batting abilities make him a preferred choice at No. 8 or 9.
According to Harbhajan, having both R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the playing eleven means the third specialist spinner should be Kuldeep for variation. However, he acknowledges Axar’s superior batting but questions the need for a strong batter at No. 9 when his skills are similar to Jadeja’s. Harbhajan thinks Kuldeep should ideally play for added variation.
Axar has taken 50 wickets in 12 Tests, with 27 coming in his first three Tests against England in 2021. Harbhajan points out that Axar excels at turning tracks by landing the ball on the spot, allowing the pitch to do the work. However, on better tracks, Axar lacks variations.
Kuldeep, on the other hand, can extract, turn, and bounce but may be slightly slower through the air. Harbhajan explains that Axar’s batting skills make him the first preference when an excessive turn is expected.
On turning tracks, a batsman with a longer tail is preferred, and Axar’s batting provides that. Additionally, on turning pitches, a bowler who consistently hits the same length without needing many variations is valuable, and Axar excels in that discipline.