May 7, 2002

The Turbanator runs into problems

Staff Reporter

Erapalli Prasanna, in his analysis of the third Test at Barbados, mentioned that Harbhajan Singh needed to attack the batsmen much more. A fine exponent of the off-spin art himself, Prasanna averred that Harbhajan, as a wicket-taking bowler, should be plotting the batsman's downfall with every ball.

Harbhajan Singh against all batsmen - West Indies first innings at Barbados
© CricInfo
A look at Harbhajan's bowling in the West Indian first innings confirms this view. He returned figures of 34.5-7-87-3, so his fans may argue that he wasn't completely ineffective. But his first wicket was that of Carl Hooper after the West Indian skipper had plundered 115 runs off the Indian attack, and his other two were of Pedro Collins and Adam Sanford, two minions in a woefully weak West Indian tail.

Harbhajan's wagon-wheel against all batsmen in the West Indian first innings is telling. Only 20 runs were scored off him in front of square, whereas 23 runs went to the point region and 32 to square leg - an indication that Harbhajan was bowling much too short.

A large percentage of an off-spinner's wickets come from making the batsman drive against the turn, and although Harbhajan did make the batsmen play to cover to the tune of 15 runs, that was not nearly enough. His dropping short made it particularly easy for the batsman to comfortably turn him behind square for runs; Hooper took 15 runs off him in this manner.

As the sole attacking spinner in the side, Harbhajan should undoubtedly follow Prasanna's advice. He can definitely do so by flighting the ball more and keeping the ball up to the batsman. Knowing that most of the West Indians are not too proficient at playing spin, this tactic may help Harbhajan get back to his old ways of bamboozling the batsmen.