England were too defensive: Harbhajan

December 11th, 2008 - 9:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan SinghChennai, Dec 11 (IANS) Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh felt that England were far too defensive and wasted a good opening stand on the first day of the first cricket Test here Thursday.Harbhajan said Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma bowled extremely well to restrict the visitors to 229 for five after Andrew Strauss (123) and Alastair Cook (52) put on a century stand.

“England won a good toss and today was the best day to bat on this pitch. But for some reason, they were too defensive. They scored some 60-odd runs in the first session and 229 the entire day. Had we batted, we would have scored more than 300,” Harbhajan said.

England were all but strokeless on a flat pitch.

“Except for the odd ball that spun, turned and bounced, the wicket was good to bat on. You could play your shots if you wanted to,” he said.

On the post-tea session when India took four wickets to pull back England, the off-spinner said: “I thought we bowled well today, and we knew that things would happen in the last session. As I said, England did not look to score runs.”

Looking ahead, Harbhajan felt that Andrew Flintoff, who is batting on 18, could be the key man. “We will be hoping to get Freddie (Flintoff) first thing in the morning tomorrow,” he said.

As for India’s response, Harbhajan asserted that the team has quality batsmen to put up a big total against a team that has just one quality bowler.

“Flintoff is the only quality bowler. He hits the deck hard and can get wickets. Of course, England do have other bowlers, but then we have quality batsmen to play their spinners Monty (Panesar) and (Graeme) Swann,” he said.

Harbhajan felt that the pitch will increasingly assist spin. “I feel, spinners will have a big role to play in this match.”

On the tight security and gunmen manning the perimeter of the ground, Harbhajan said: “It was most unfortunate what happened in Mumbai and hats off to the security men (for the way they handled the situation). But it is great to be back to playing cricket and especially for England to return to India after all that happened.”

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