MUMBAI: He might be out of the India squad, but Harbhajan Singh is seen as a player who has the credentials to lead the country at some time in the future by former skipper Sourav Ganguly.
"Harbhajan's captaincy was brilliant in Champions League and Wednesday too (for Mumbai Indians against Chennai Super Kings in the IPL opener). His body language was terrific. He has the ability to lead India some day. I have always said I will have Harbhajan in my side," said Ganguly who is to lead Pune Warriors against Harbhajan-led Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
The off-spinner was not part of the Indian squad to Australia for the Test and ODI tri-series and was also ignored by the selectors for the subsequent Asia Cup in Dhaka, his place having been taken by CSK's R Ashwin.
Ganguly also described Sachin Tendulkar's decision to relinquish captaincy of the Mumbai Indians outfit as a "personal decision".
"We have seen in the past that he (Tendulkar) is a reluctant captain. It's his personal decision. And also it has got to do with Bhaji winning the Champions League," he said.
Looking ahead to the game on Friday, the Bengal stalwart -- who played only four games for the Warriors last season under Yuvraj Singh who is absent due to illness this season -- said Friday's match would be an interesting one.
"Mumbai Indians are a good side. It will be a good game. They have started well, but we have some good players," he said.
Ganguly said that the team he was captaining this season was better than the one that played in the previous season, but did not see West Indian Marlon Samuels as a good replacement for Yuvraj.
"You can't compare Samuels with Yuvraj as he is a foreigner and as the IPL rules do not allow more than four foreigners to be fielded in the eleven. Yuvraj has been ruled out of IPL and we will miss him. Hopefully he will recover fully and be back with us," said Ganguly.
He rated Ashish Nehra as one of India's finest ODI bowlers but added that the left-arm seamer will miss Friday's game.
"Ashish is one of India's finest ODI bowlers. He will miss tomorrow's game but will he available from the next game," he said without elaborating why the Delhi pacer is to miss the game against MI.