Mumbai: Former India bowler Ajit Agarkar on Tuesday said he would pick leg-spinner Amit Mishra as the second spinner alongside Ravichandran Ashwin and not Harbhajan Singh for the first Test against Sri Lanka starting on Wednesday because of his variety in bowling.
India play hosts Lanka in the first Test of the three-match series in Galle.
“Thinking about the five bowlers concept, I would pick R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Amit Mishra as the second spinner and not Harbhajan Singh as you need a bit of variety,” Agarkar was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
The 37-year-old said the first big Test lies ahead of skipper Virat Kohli against Lanka.
“Big series for Virat Kohli, first real test for him, a proper three-match series away from home,” he said.
Speaking on the batting line-up India would go with, he said, “It’s a tough one. India have played Rohit Sharma in the last series in Australia, when they dropped Cheteshwar Pujara. In the lone Test in Bangladesh, Rohit failed to perform, so there is a pressure on Rohit to perform and deliver.”
“Pujara is not an ordinary player. He averages much better. Rohit needs to get runs as Pujara is someone whom you can’t keep outside for long.”
Agarkar believes that it’s a good chance for India to beat the hosts as Sri Lanka are coming into the series after a loss to Pakistan in all the three formats, but the former pacer made it clear that it is hard to pick a favourite for the series as India have not performed well in away Tests recently.
“Sri Lanka has been beaten by Pakistan in all formats recently, so it’s good time for India to cash on it and beat SL. But the visitors have to play good cricket to beat them,” he said.
“Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka is always a difficult team to beat. They have got a good team, so has India. Hard to pick a favourite as India have not played well away from home. But these conditions are somewhat similar to what you would get in India. Sri Lanka is always a difficult team to beat,” Agarkar concluded.