Harbhajan knocking on the door of '400' club
Playing in his 95th Test, India's third most successful bowler needs four more to reach the 400-wicket mark and emulate Anil Kumble and Kapil Dev. N Ananthanarayanan reports.Updated: Jun 28, 2011 02:44 IST
The loop and flight were back, and gone were those flat and fast deliveries that Harbhajan Singh resorted to in the first Test in Kingston.
The world's most experienced Test spinner seemed to have found calm in the Kensington Oval nets after struggling on an uneven Sabina Park pitch last week.
The 30-year-old bowled for a long time before he padded up for another extended batting stint. Skipper MS Dhoni himself shared the job of hitting tennis balls with a racquet to the batsman, who ducked and weaved in anticipation of the bounce batsmen will face in the second Test starting on Tuesday.Although talk at the famous Barbados venue has been only about pace, spinners have also had a say here in the past. And Harbhajan will have extra motivation. Playing in his 95th Test, India's third most successful bowler needs four more to reach the 400-wicket mark and emulate Anil Kumble and Kapil Dev.
In the first Test, he basically had one good spell in the first innings when he accounted for the well-set Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Carlton Baugh, but struggled for consistency and began firing in his deliveries. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra also suddenly seemed to have lost confidence as India's experienced pair was overshadowed by the young West Indies leggie Devendra Bishoo, who finished with seven scalps.
However, MS Dhoni realises the value Harbhajan brings to the side. As the vice-captain he was actively involved in the field during the one-dayers, and his batting in the first innings was a turning point in the Sabina Park Test win.
Dhoni acknowledged the worry for bowlers, particularly the spinners, in the first Test. Unlike limited overs, where they are content in containment, in Tests the spinners are under pressure to look for wickets. The field is more attacking and there is not much cover on the boundary line. The advice to the spinners has been to stay relaxed and not tighten up, which can affect the bowling.
"On wickets like these, with close in fielders, the bowlers are also under pressure not to bowl bad deliveries. The wicket also ensures there is pace and the ball comes onto the bat," Dhoni said.