R Ashwin (L) and Harbhajan Singh. (Getty Images)
R Ashwin (L) and Harbhajan Singh. (Getty Images)

'Harbhajan had the doosra, Ashwin's tricks fascinating': Ian Bell names India spinner he found more difficult to play

  • India vs England: Hence, when it comes to comparing the two, Bell, one of England's finest players of spin, is aware of the traits that made both Ashwin and Harbhajan stand out.
By hindustantimes.com, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 03, 2021 09:36 AM IST

Ian Bell is one of the few international batsmen who has faced both Harbhajan Singh and R Ashwin. Harbhajan was the leader of the spin attack when England and India faced each other in Test series in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011, whereas in the 2014 Pataudi Trophy, when India toured England, Bell faced Ashwin in two of the five Tests. Besides, Bell has been engaged in several fascinating contests with both spinners in ODIs and T20Is.

Hence, when it comes to comparing the two, Bell, one of England's finest players of spin, is aware of the traits that made both Ashwin and Harbhajan stand out. Between the two spinners, Bell admitted that he found Harbhajan tougher to face as a batsman, both home and away given the terrific bounce he was able to generate in his prime.

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"I would say Harbhajan to an extent but again back then there was no DRS. In another way, it was a little bit easier. I found it tough against Harbhajan and his doosra but again certainly in Indian conditions, they were both tough nuts. I thought I could score runs against Harbhajan in England. There was more pace on the ball… the bounce was a bit more consistent, not much turn," Bell said on the 'Runorder' show on ESPNcricinfo.

Bell admitted he wouldn't have wanted to face either, but credited Ashwin for his bag of tricks, saying the variations the India off-spinner has is extraordinary, although between the two, Bell said he would have struggled more against Harbhajan.

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"Ashwin has a few more tricks, with his angles and how he used them in Test matches so far. His tricks without using the doosra are fascinating, but probably looking back, Ashwin early in his career was probably a bit better but I struggled a little more against Harbhajan. But probably wouldn't want to face either," Bell added.

Harbhajan has a superior record overseas as compared to Ashwin. Harbhajan, India's first hat-trick taker in Tests, has picked up 152 wickets, while Ashwin currently has 123, however the latter has bowled fewer overs as compared to his former India teammate. Having said that, Ashwin has shown remarkable improvement in his performance overseas and Bell is confident that the off-spinner will only get better from here.

"Ashwin has still got some years ahead. He's going to get even better. We've seen that with Jimmy Anderson, in terms of his away form which has gotten better. His home form has always been there but his away form over experience and time has understood how to get the best out of those conditions and Ashwin will do that abroad going forward," Bell explained.

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