Kolkata, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is too big a player to be judged by his Indian Premier League (IPL) form alone and Harbhajan Singh believes that if the team management and selectors feel he is good enough to be in the T20 World Cup team, they should pick him irrespective of what he does in the cash-rich league which has now been postponed.
"How do you judge Dhoni? Do you see his IPL form or give him respect and consider the fact that he is one of India's greatest players and captains. The guy has done a lot for Indian cricket," Harbhajan told IANS in an exclusive interview.
"M.S. Dhoni is a big big player. He doesn't need to be told if he is capable or not. So I don't think you need to ponder too much about it. If you think you need Dhoni, and if he is available, you pick him," said Harbhajan, India's third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket.
Harbhajan is slated to play with Dhoni for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL. The decorated former India captain has not played since the 2019 World Cup semi-final where India lost to New Zealand.
Harbhajan also opined that all-rounder Hardik Pandya should be in the Indian T20 team for the World Cup scheduled to take place in October in Australia, saying even though the 26-year old has not played since September last year, he is a match winner on his day and brings a lot to the table.
Hardik last played in September in a T20 against South Africa before getting injured and undergoing surgery subsequently.
"Hardik Pandya has not played after the World Cup. But I can give you in writing that if he is fit and irrespective of whether the IPL takes place or not, when the team will be made he will be in the team because if the team needs to maintain combination, he has to be in the team. You need these kind of players. So some players cannot be judged on IPL form. It is for them who are not proven players," the off-spinner explained.
Harbhajan has also pledged to feed 5000 under-privileged families in his native Jalandhar, who are suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have a team there who are working round the clock. I am in constant touch with them from Mumbai. We maintain social distancing norms strictly. We have made circles where they stand, away from one another, collect their food and go to their homes," said the Turbanator, as he is fondly called.
"Everyone should do as much as possible, If you can help even one person, you have done a lot. This is the time to play together as a team. India needs to fight this together," he pointed.
Yuvraj Singh recently said that there is dearth of role models besides Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in this current Indian team and the line between seniors and juniors has become thin which was not the case during their playing days.
Harbhajan said he never felt anything of that sort till the time he was part of the Indian team.
"See every team has a different culture. Pehle ke time kuch aur the (times were different before). Now these are different times. What Yuvi has said, I don't know in what context he said these things, but I played till 2016 and I never felt anything like this," said Harbhajan who last turned out for India in a T20 game against the UAE in March, 2016.
"Now I haven't been in the team since 2016 so I cannot comment on this current bunch. But till the time I was there, I never felt anything. Yes the team has changed a lot since 2016. So maybe Yuvi can give you a better answer to this as he knows the context," added the 39-year old, regarded as one of India's finest off-spinners of all time.