World Cup-winning India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said he doesn’t see India changing their combination, barring one forced change, during their ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 match against Afghanistan in Southampton on Saturday.
India are set to bring Mohammed Shami in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar who has been sidelined with a hamstring issue he had picked up in India’s 89-run win over Pakistan on Sunday.
Rishabh Pant was slotted into the squad as he was officially named as the replacement for Shikhar Dhawan who has been ruled out with a thumb fracture.
Vijay Shankar suffered an injury scare when he was hit on his toe by a Jasprit Bumrah yorker during Wednesday’s training session at The Ageas Bowl. Pant was set for a World Cup debut as the wicketkeeper-batsman was in line to replace Shankar.
However, the Tamil Nadu all-rounder seems to have recovered well and is 100% fit ahead of the Afghanistan match. Vijay Shankar was back in training on Thursday and took a hit at the nets as well.
“I will stick to the same combination. Obviously, Shami will come in for Bhuvi but apart from one, I don’t see anyone else coming in and disturbing your combination,” Harbhajan Singh told India Today from Southampton.
The off-spinner added: “Most definitely (Vijay Shankar ahead of Rishabh Pant). He was your first-choice. He has done well in the previous game against Pakistan. You can’t let someone else come and take his place just because he came into the team.”
Pant, known for his explosive batting, trained with the team in Southampton ahead of Saturday’s match vs Afghanistan who haven’t managed to open their account after 5 games in World Cup 2019.
Pant was left dejected when he was initially omitted from the World Cup squad but an injury to Dhawan has come as a big opportunity to the Delhi Capitals star.
Meanwhile, Harbhajan Singh said India have the firepower to post 400-run totals at the World Cup but maintained that the Southampton wicket will not be as batter-friendly as the pitches elsewhere in England.
“I think we have got players who can hit as many sixes [Eoin Morgan’s record tally of 17]. If Hardik Pandya gets going, he can get more than that. Rohit Sharma, who has hit 3 double hundreds, can do it. We have enough players who can take us to 400. And 17 sixes, easy,” Harbhajan added.
“If we bat well enough, we can get more than 330. In the South Africa vs West Indies game, the wicket was a bit two-paced. But a score of 330 will be more than enough.”