Harbhajan Singh has launched a verbal attack on Ravichandran Ashwin for his injury record and performances on India's away tours, saying that it is time to promote Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja as the country's leading spinners.
In the recently concluded four-match Test series against Australia, Ashwin picked up six wickets in the first Test match but missed the remainder of the series due to a hip injury. In the series against England, the off-spinner started brightly picking up seven wickets in the opening Test at Edgbaston before producing diminishing returns.
"The best I have seen R Ashwin bowl was in the first Test in England. After that, he lost his edge. He looked dull in the next Test and then got injured in the series. When he played at Southampton, he got very few wickets while Moeen Ali from the opposition got 9 wickets.
"After that in Australia, he got 3 in the first innings of the first Test and after that had to bowl 52 overs to get the next 3 wickets. So it has to be said that his away record has been shaky and he has struggled," India Today quoted Harbhajan as saying.
The 'turbanator' went on to heap praise on the duo of Jadeja and Kuldeep saying that they should be promoted as India's number 1 and number 2 spinners – home and away – as Ashwin keeps getting injured.
"They have shown the way forward for Team India - to look at the option of playing them together abroad or in India. Ashwin being injured on two tours; when your team needs you the most, you [R Ashwin] get injured," Harbhajan was quoted as saying by PTI.
"Kuldeep should be promoted as the No. 1 spinner and Jadeja as the No. 2 spinner. These two guys should be playing together irrespective of where India are playing. They add a lot of strength to the team," he had said.
"You should play your match-winners. It shouldn't be like they play in overseas conditions "aur jab malai khaane ka time aaye toh koi aur khele" (and when the time comes to reap rewards of your hard work in home conditions, you see someone else getting a chance). They are working hard and winning you games abroad; they deserve to play at home as well," Bhajji said.
Meanwhile, former Indian wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer has hit back at Harbhajan for his comments saying that there is nothing called first spinner or second spinner and believes that the 37-year-old is washing his dirty linen in public.
"Did you read Harbhajan's comments about Ashwin; he was out of order there. What is first spinner and second spinner? Spinner is a spinner," said Engineer during a talk show organised by Legends Club at the Cricket Club of India on January 9.
"Ashwin is a great bowler. It appeared to me he (Harbhajan) was critical of Ashwin. You don't wash dirty linen in public especially on an off-spinner who has replaced you. It's like (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni criticising (Rishabh) Pant. It's not cricket," said Engineer.