'Yes, his last few games weren't good, but that doesn't make him a bad bowler.'
Former spinner Harbhajan Singh slammed Yuzvendra Chahal's exclusion from the Indian team for upcoming Asia Cup, saying the leg-spinner is a 'proven match-winner'.
Chahal was dropped from the 17-member squad with India preferring to go with Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja as their three spinners for the Asia Cup.
"The one thing I feel is lacking in the team is the absence of Yuzvendra Chahal. He is a leg-spinner who can get the ball to turn away. I thought his presence in his team was necessary. If you talk about genuine spinner, I don't think there's any spinner in India better than Chahal in white-ball formats," Harbhajan said on his YouTube channel.
"Yes, his last few games weren't good, but that doesn't make him a bad bowler. I think his presence in the team was necessary," he added.
Chahal, 33, last featured in the Indian ODI team in January. He didn't get a single one-day match in the three-match in the West Indies recently, and was only included in the five-match T20I series in which he claimed five wickets in as many matches.
Harbhajan hopes the experienced Chahal, who has taken 121 wickets in 72 matches, will be considered for the 2023 World Cup later this year.
"I hope the doors aren't closed to him. It's important to consider him for the World Cup because the tournament is in India. Chahal is a proven match-winner. I can understand his form isn't good, so you may have rested him. But I think if he was with the team, his confidence would have stayed intact. Any player who comes back after being dropped, the pressure to perform is always there," he stated.
Chahal's inclusion for the World Cup looks difficult as India are set to pick their 15-member squad from the set of 17 which has travelled for the Asia Cup.
Captain Rohit Sharma had reasoned why Axar got the nod ahead of the likes of Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin for the Asia Cup.
"We also want someone who can bat at No 8 or No 9. Axar has had a great run with the bat in all formats and the IPL. He got some chances in the West Indies too, but he bats too low. Him being there gives us batting depth, a left-hand option and someone who we can use up the order to play spin. We also thought of Ashwin and Washi (Washington Sundar) as well. The only way we could include them was by having a seamer miss out. We cannot do this because seamers are going to be playing a massive role in the next two months," he said.
"But the door is open for all. If we need Chahal in World Cup, we will try to squeeze him in. The same goes for Ashwin and Washington."