Harbhajan: India to stay at No.1 spot | Cricket Updates
After a historic 2-0 clean sweep over Australia, SportsCenter’s Sai Prasad Mohapatra caught up with India’s Harbhajan Singh.
India-Australia was a marquee series, 11 wkts for you, 2-0 series win , you couldn’t have asked for more?
Definitely, It has been a very satisfying series. We won 2-0. I took 11 wickets and am quite satisfied with my own performance but it could had been better. Credit goes to all the boys. Sachin played a fantastic knock in Bangalore and Laxman, Ishant won that game for us in Mohali. It was ‘very very special’ team effort.
You particularly didn’t have a great series in Sri Lanaka, in fact you were down with swine flu but you never disclosed it to anyone. How did you deal with the criticism that Bhajji is miles away from his best?
To be honest, I don’t hear what people are saying. Yes I had swine flu and was suffering from it but still I made a call to play. That perhaps was not a right call. My body was not at its best and was tiring out while bowling just 2-3 overs. I think I made a mistake by playing in the first two games. I did not want to miss the first Test, so I went ahead and tried my best. I did go against my body. All that took heavy toll on me. Playing in Sri Lanka was a mistake considering my health.
After that you went to South Africa for the champion’s league and then you had to prepare for the big Ind-Aus series. How do you make that switch from T20 to Tests and vice-versa?
I told myself that India-Australia is the biggest clash of all and I wanted to be a part of it. I have always done well against Australia. I didn’t have much practice before the champions league, then I came back and started bowling long sessions in the nets and was totally focused on the series. During which, I developed pain in my shin, which was actually scaring me. My physio told me, if you keep on playing with it, you might develop stress fracture. Shin is where you can’t even have injection, but still I had to play so I went ahead with pain killers and am really happy that I survived the two games.
Briefly during your practice in Mohali you went back to your original coach?
They are people who have seen me when I was 15 year old. They were the people who told me that I was doing fine and just need to go out and express myself. I came to Mohali and met my real coach. He is with Punjab Cricket Association, he came and watched me bowl. He said nothing wrong with you, just be yourself and be confident. But my shin was troubling me, thankfully I came out strong.
Bangalore has always been a special place for you. You made your debut here. Last time also you took Mike Hussey’s wicket with a top spinner that spun like a leg spin, and you called that the wicket of your career and this time Marcus North’s wkt you took, that almost created a blind spot for him. How did you set him up?
Bangalore has always been a special place. I made my debut here. Whenever I come here, it takes me back to 1998.Yes Hussey’s dismissal last time came as a surprise to me as well. I bowled a top spinner and was surprised how much it turned to take his off-stump. This time I was bowling quicker through the air to North, because I didn’t want to give him time to go for shots. That was a good ball and I also enjoyed that.
Anil kumble in the mean time dropped by to have a look at you, Pragyan and Amit, how much of his presence in the nets made a difference?
I requested Anil bhai to come to the nets and have a look at whats happening. Whether everything is ok or we need to develop new things. He has always been a great support not just for me but for each and every one of us. I m glad he took some time out for us. It’s great to have him and Sachin around whenever we need them.
At times your adrenalin gets the better of your batting and it surprises both you and your opposition, especially Australia. How upset you were with yourself after getting out in Mohali?
I was really upset. I have been working hard on my batting. I shouldn’t have gone for that shot of the first ball though, that was a good ball. Even in the second innings, I got to the second ball. I was really angry with myself and that was the time we needed a partnership to win that game. I didn’t remove my pads and was sitting with my pads on until India got the victory.
India of late has started winning the big series both at home and abroad. They are currently ranked number one Test team in world cricket. Do you think India has the potential to sustain its number one rankings for like Australia or West Indies did once?
Definitely, we have the talent to be at the top of the table for a long time. We have proven that in the last nine months and we were at the top because we have won lot of game both in India and abroad. If we can achieve that then why can’t we be there for a long time? Talent wise, definitely we can.
Next big challenge of course is taking on South Africa in South Africa. You reckon that will be your real test?
Yes. South Africa in South Africa will be very challenging. The wickets and conditions are different there. But we have been there many a times, the boys are pretty confident; we have got the batting line up to perform there and a bowling outfit to take wickets there. We just need to have faith in our ability and I am sure if we go on to win the series in South Africa, that will be a big achievement.
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