We need to be patient with spinners: Harbhajan Singh

April 16th, 2008 - 3:57 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh
By Abhishek Roy
New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) Every time people write him off after a slight slump in form, Harbhajan Singh bounces back with renewed vigour and vengeance. Concerns were expressed about the off-spinner’s diminishing strike rate in the last couple of seasons, even though he had been highly economical. He has now rectified the shortcoming. To be fair, he has also been dragged into the news for all the wrong reasons and that has also deflected focus from his job.

He is back as the spearhead of the Indian spin attack and, in the absence of Anil Kumble, has spun India to a series-levelling win against South Africa in the third Test in Kanpur. He was adjudged the Man of the Series with a haul of 19 wickets in three Tests.

Harbhajan is left alone to carry the burden in shorter versions of the game now that Kumble has quit One-Day cricket. Harbhajan feels Kumble’s retirement has created a vacuum and the hunt for young spinners must start in right earnest. At the same time, he says, spinners take time to mature and so patience is the key.

“There is no denying the fact that a big vacuum has been created after Anil’s retirement from one-day cricket. But I am sure good spinners will emerge and we will have to nurture them,” Harbhajan told IANS.

Harbhajan says there are quite a few spinners in domestic cricket with potential to make big.

“There are youngsters like Piyush Chawla, Pragyan Ojha and Iqbal Abdullah, who are really talented. But we have to give them more time to grow.”

Harbhajan was especially impressed with Chawla, with whom he played the third Test at Kanpur against South Africa. “He is maturing and is bowling cleverly. I think he is a good example of how we should blood spinners. Chawla was given time and now he is blossoming.”

The off-spinner, who was the first Indian to take a Test hat-trick, was also satisfied with his performance and said the experience he gained over a decade in international cricket was proving handy.

“I have been in international cricket for over a decade and I think that experience is coming in handy now. I know what should be the exact length to bowl at on different pitches,” he said.

Harbhajan said he did not bother much about the number of wickets he bagged in a match, he was only interested in bowling well.

He is equally excited about the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) in which he will be sharing the dressing room with players from different countries for the Mumbai Indian team led by Sachin Tendulkar.

“I am looking forward to it as sharing the dressing room with players from different countries will be a whole new experience. Some of us might have on-field rivalries, but when we play for a team, everything will take a back seat,” Harbhajan added.

According to Harbhajan, Twenty20 cricket will take a toll on spinners but will also test their skills.

“Cricket has always been a batsman’s game. And there is no doubt that in Twenty20 as well batsmen will dominate spinners. But it will also test the skills of batsmen as much as spinners. A good ball will always get you a wicket and spinners will have to bowl tightly,” he said.

The 27-year-old spinner feels that the experience gained from being a part of the Twenty20 World Championship winning squad would be of help in IPL.

“In the World Championship, I have bowled at crucial junctures in the match. I have bowled early in the innings and have also bowled in the death overs. I have been successful in containing the batsmen and force them to play a fatally wrong shot.”

Harbhajan feels that IPL would help to bring spectators back to cricket in huge numbers, especially for Tests.

“It is too early to talk of the IPL’s impact, but I strongly feel that the entertainment aspect of the event will help to attract spectators,” he said.

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