'I will call him a legend when I meet him next time': Harbhajan Singh's massive praise for India bowler
India vs England: Harbhajan Singh did not hold back his praise for the India bowler and his contribution towards the Indian team over the years.
The third Test between India and England in Ahmedabad was built up around Ishant Sharma and his 100th Test. However, by the time the Test match ended, Ishant's contribution in the match was just one wicket as the remaining 19 English wickets fell to spin. Ishant started the Test by dismissing Dom Sibley out caught behind for a duck in his landmark Test, before the spinners took over and went on a rampage against England.
While Axar Patel, with 11 wickets, was the best of the lot, India's premier spinner R Ashwin wasn't far behind. The off-spinner claimed seven wickets in the match to become only the fourth Indian bowler after Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and Harbhajan Singh to claim 400 Test wickets. Ashwin reached the landmark in his 77th Test and is behind only the great Muttiah Muralitharan as the second-fastest to this incredible feat.
Ashwin picked up the baton as India’s premier spinner from Harbhajan Singh and lived up to that role brilliantly. So much so that India captain Virat Kohli called Ashwin a legend after the end of the match. Harbhajan himself explained how great Ashwin has been for Indian cricket and highlighted his impact behind the rise of the team.
"Taking 400 wickets is a very big thing and that too in Test cricket, a format which tests you mentally, physically and every other way. So to dismiss 400 batsmen in that and win the team match after match is a huge thing. There is no doubt that R Ashwin is a legend," Harbhajan said in a discussion with Star Sports.
"Even if he had not taken 400 wickets, it was not that he would not have been considered a legend because he has won India so many matches. It was great to hear Virat Kohli saying that he will be calling Ashwin as a legend going forward. I will also call him a legend when I meet him next time."
During the pink-ball Test, Ashwin dismissed Ben Stokes for the 11th time in his career, which Harbhajan reckons, is one of the biggest attributes of Ashwin. The off-spinner has been known to pick up key opposition wickets. He has dismissed David Warner 10 times in Tests as well and had reasonable success against Steve Smith during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under.
"A bowler's main task is to take wickets and that too the one which is most essential for the team, the main batsman from the opposition team. If I see this England batting, there are two big names in Ben Stokes and Joe Root. They have the ability to take England to a situation from where they can control the match," Harbhajan added.
"So, R Ashwin has a greater responsibility to get them out and he has not done that now but has done that very well from the time he has been playing and I pray that he continues doing so going ahead, that R Ashwin keeps a stranglehold on the main batsmen from the opposition team."