'When you play among each other, it's never that intense': Harbhajan explains why New Zealand 'deserve to be champions'
- Harbhajan Singh believes lack of match practice had plenty to do with India's performance in the WTC final.
Veteran India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is convinced that New Zealand outplayed India and deserved to win the final of the World Test Championship in Southampton. Harbhajan reckons it was a great toss to win for New Zealand as they were aware of English conditions better than their opponents and made the most of it by dismissing India for not a big total in the first innings.
"New Zealand played far better than team India and they deserve to be champions. They bowled beautifully, it was a crucial toss to win and they won it. From there onwards, they were in the driver's seat. They got India out for 217 and then very cheaply in the second innings," Harbhajan told India Today.
"It benefitted them, being there in England, playing those two Test matches. They understood those conditions better than the Indians. They were deserving candidates."
Harbhajan believes lack of match practice had something to do with India's performance in the WTC final. While New Zealand had played two Test matches in England, all India got for practice was an intra-squad simulation match, which Harbhajan feels was never going to be enough ahead of a match as big as this.
"When you play among each other, it's never that intense. But when you play against a County side, you will play at your best and you know what needs to be done to win those games. India could have definitely gone a little earlier," added Harbhajan. "Pressure is there in all games. Bigger games bring more pressure of course. I was saying earlier that people may be saying it's a great day to bat but still you have to go out there and do it."
Lastly, Harbhajan underlined the period of play which he feels cost India the match – the morning session of Day 6. Resuming on their overnight score of 64/2, India lost Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara in quick succession to eventually slump to 109/5 and that is where the hopes of drawing the game began to fade, Harbhajan added.
"If India had lost just one wicket in that first session we would have headed for a draw. But we lost too many wickets in the first session itself and the pressure came to the boys," said Harbhajan. "Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane's wickets were crucial and once they got out it was just a matter of time considering how New Zealand were bowling. Great day for New Zealand cricket but disappointing for Team India."