Former Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh questioned the Punjab Kings’ (PBKS) team selection after their comprehensive defeat against the Delhi Capitals (DC) on Wednesday. The 41-year-old believes PBKS shouldn’t have dropped the in-form Sri Lankan Bhanuka Rajapaksa in the first place.
In just three games, Rajapaksa scored 83 runs at a staggering strike rate of 230.56. He was instrumental at No. 3 and gave Punjab some flying starts in the powerplay. However, as soon as England star Jonny Bairstow was available for selection, Rajapaksa was dropped from the team.
Bairstow has scored just 41 runs from four games at a poor strike rate of 105.13. Speaking to Sportskeeda on the show ‘SK Straight Talk’, Harbhajan Singh opined that dropping Rajapaksa was never a wise decision from the Punjab Kings management. He said:
“You should never drop a player who is in form. When someone is doing well for you and you drop him for Jonny Bairstow only for reputation and assume that he would score big runs, that doesn’t work. Whenever a player is doing well, you need to continue with him even if a senior player is sitting out because you need to think of the team first.”
Punjab Kings need to find an anchor for their innings: Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh feels the inconsistency in the Punjab Kings’ batting has been due to their approach of just continuing to play big shots throughout the 20 overs. The 41-rear-old is of the opinion that Punjab need to change their approach and try to consolidate if they lose early wickets. He stated:
“Punjab play the brand of cricket where they keep on attacking even if a couple of wickets or three wickets fall in the powerplay. Whenever you lose wickets, there needs to be a partnership through sensible batting, which they aren’t doing at the moment.”
Harbhajan Singh also shed light on the fact that apart from Shikhar Dhawan, there is no other batter who has shown willingness to stick around and absorb pressure. He added:
“Punjab do need to find an anchor for their innings. Shikhar Dhawan can do that role but apart from him, all the other batters look to hit sixes. Don’t forget the basics of the game as even singles and doubles are a part of T20 cricket and not just sixes.”
Having lost the game against DC with as many as 9.3 overs to spare, the Punjab Kings have taken a huge hit to their net run rate. Harbhajan Singh believes such heavy losses could cost them in the end as in a tournament like the IPL, net run rate plays a crucial role. He concluded by saying:
“Net run rate will definitely hurt them. They have planned to hit just fours and sixes. However, it looks good only when you score 180-200. When you make low scores like these and when you check your net run rate after 12 games, then you will feel that ‘If we would have played better cricket in that game then our net run rate would have been better’.”
Punjab currently sit eighth in the points table. Skipper Mayank Agarwal will need to make some bold decisions regarding the playing XI as well as their approach if PBKS are to make a strong comeback this season.