Twenty20 will be the ultimate test: Bhajji | india | Hindustan Times
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Twenty20 will be the ultimate test: Bhajji

The Indian off-spinner said the new version of the game would be like a nightmare for spinners.

india Updated: Jul 18, 2006 19:44 IST

Harbhajan Singh envisages a challenging role for traditional spinners in Twenty20 format, saying the slam-bang version of the game will be the ultimate test of their bowling skills.

While describing the format as exciting, the off-spinner said it would be nothing short of nightmare for bowlers like him as it is tailor-made for stroke-makers.

"It is a very exciting format but more for viewers and batsmen. Bowlers will always be under pressure in this format of the game," he said.

"It will be great fun for batsmen like Dhoni and Sehwag. But it will be just 'katle aam' (massacre) for bowlers," the 26-year-old said.

"I had a chance to play in Twenty20 cricket in England which attracted a lot of viewers and they really enjoyed the short game. But my experience is that bowlers will have to keep their fingers crossed before every ball."

After initially opposing the concept, the Indian Cricket Board recently decided to introduce the latest version in the domestic circuit and also confirmed their participation in Twenty20 World Cup to be held in South Africa next year.

The 'Turbanator' said the format made it necessary for the bowlers to score runs down the order so as to make some contribution to the total.

"Even from the tail-enders, some hard hitting would be expected. In a nutshell, for bowlers it will be a great challenge and for batsmen it will be great fun," he said.

Undaunted by the growing competition for the spinner's slot in the Indian Test squad, Harbhajan Singh says he just focuses on giving his best every time instead of worrying about losing his place to a rival.

The ace off-spinner, considered an integral part of Team India till not very long ago, was dropped for the first two Tests against West Indies in the recent series but came back strongly with five-wicket hauls in the last two matches.

Harbhajan said increased competition only brings out the best in him and as a senior, he does not worry about any threat.

Asked specifically if the presence of another off-spinner in Ramesh Powar was putting additional pressure on him, he said, "I don't feel any threat due to Powar. Every player has to perform on the ground to book his place in the Indian team.

"When I play, I always try to give my best and if I keep any threats in mind, I will not be able to deliver the results at all," he said.

"Since I am an established player, I don't have to worry about any threat. But obviously in case of competition, players always perform to their best which is good for the team."

Harbhajan spoke at length on a variety of topics, ranging from Sourav Ganguly's comeback to India's preparations for the World Cup and his marriage plans.

"I think Powar is also a very good bowler and he should be given more time to gain experience at the international level," he said.

Asked if he is trying to develop any new weapon in his armoury, he replied, "Developing a new ball is a Herculean task and I don't want to take any risk by trying to do anything different, rather I am trying to strengthen my existing style.

"Although there should be a variation in every ball by a change in the angle, it is risky to suddenly try a new ball."

"Developing a new delivery is quite time consuming and may be of dire consequence if the bowler tries it at the international level straightaway."

Harbhajan said the recent tour of the Caribbean had given the team a fair idea of what to expect in the World Cup.

"The climatic condition of the West Indies was similar to Asian countries, India would not have much difficulty as far as climatic difficulties were concerned.

"Since the wickets were slow, now we have come to know what score we should give to opponents to win and what is the score, which could be defended. This will help us in chalking out the strategy for the World Cup."

"We just lost the rhythm. Especially in the third ODI, our batting was not up to our potential which was evident from the fact that at the score of 190, only two players were out but by 243, we were all out," he said.

Upbeat about India's next assignment - a tri-series involving hosts Sri Lanka and South Africa - Harbhajan said the tournament would pose a tough challenge to the side.

"Since both the teams are good, it will be tough challenge to win the title. Sri Lanka are always a threat on their home ground. And this time around their morale is on an all-time high considering that they beat England 5-0 recently. But if our team plays to its potential, we will be successful."

Despite the recent failures of the batsmen, particularly in the one-dayers against the West Indies, Harbhajan said batting was not a cause of concern for the team.

"There is no cause of worry as far as batting is concerned as the team has performed excellently in the last so many matches. In fact, out of last 25 matches, we won as many as 18 and the main contribution came from the batsmen.

"As far as the debacle in the ODI series against West Indies is concerned, the management will review it and overcome the mistakes committed in the series," he added.

"Emphasis is being given to improve the batting of tail-enders whose contribution matters a lot while chasing a target," he said.

"Even I am concentrating more on my batting. I would like to be consistent in my batting also. I devote at least one fourth of the total practice time to improve my batting."

Harbhajan would rather not predict if he would still be playing when Asia hosts the World Cup in 2011.

"Let us hope for the best. Spinners usually enjoy longevity as compared to fast bowlers. In my case I am yet to read my future. My wish is that I should finish my cricket career after reaching similar heights as Anil Kumble."

Welcoming the news of Sachin Tendulkar's comeback, he said, the batsman's presence would boost the morale of the team.

"He will not only strengthen our opening but also be helpful as a bowler," he added.

Asked about a possible comeback by former captain Sourav Ganguly to the Indian squad, Harbhajan said, "I am neither the selector nor the captain of the team. It is up to them to decide about Ganguly's comeback."

On the personal front, Harbhajan said he would tie the nuptial knot after the World Cup next year but did not elaborate further.