England v India, 2nd Test, Trent Bridge July 28, 2011

Will an embattled Harbhajan step up?

The conditions may have played a part in his misery at Lord's but Harbhajan Singh knows he's been struggling for a while. Going in to the Trent Bridge Test, there is an urgent need to set things right
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He was not being indulgent. He was furious. You could sense that, sitting in the stands behind the bowler's arm at the Trent Bridge pavilion end. The lofted drives landed in the stands frequently - to the frustration of the members and autograph hunters - as Harbhajan Singh used the long handle immediately into the training session on Wednesday. "No wonder he can't bowl," remarked an angry, grey-haired crew-cut gentleman, one of the Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club members, with his arms folded.

Don't be surprised to see someone carrying a banner with similar words on it during the next five days if Harbhajan comes up with another muted performance, like he did at Lord's last week. In that match, which India lost by 196 runs, Harbhajan had a match haul of one wicket (56-4-218-1). As only the second offspinner to bag 400-plus wickets, more was expected of Harbhajan.

Perhaps, therein lies the problem. We know what Harbhajan is capable of and can do, and we expect him to live up to that. As India's lead spinner and the senior-most bowler in the line-up, he was expected to not only restrict the England run machine, but also create huge dents. He failed miserably and questions about his position in the side resurfaced. Statistics show Harbhajan to be poor in series-openers - 30 wickets in 14 matches at an average of 60.40 since 2001.

Let's consider Harbhajan's position at Lord's. MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bowl in overcast conditions. He began with three fast bowlers at his disposal. In two hours, the number dropped to two after Zaheer Khan pulled his right hamstring. In that England's first innings spread across the better part of the first two days, conditions remained friendly for the fast bowlers. Ishant Sharma struggled for rhythm, Praveen Kumar persevered. There was hardly any spin in the track. Harbhajan failed.

On the fourth morning, on a much drier surface, Harbhajan found all the pieces needed to get the jigsaw in shape: sun, turn, slow pace. He trapped Andrew Strauss, who looked in a dominant mood. For about an hour before the lunch break he inserted doubts in the new batsmen as Ishant found his mojo at the other end. It was the best session for India in the match. In the middle session Matt Prior and Stuart Broad quickly re-arranged England's broken house and put it back in shape. The vultures returned, on the lookout for Harbhajan.

But Harbhajan is not the only Indian spinner to have had difficulty bowling at Lord's. Even Anil Kumble, who played three Tests at the venue, averaged 41. Harbhajan was playing his first Lord's Test (his fourth in England) and still coming to grips with the slope.

Saqlain Mushtaq, the former Pakistan offspinner, who now lives in Leicester, is another strong supporter of Harbhajan. "Look at the conditions at Lord's - they were swinging. Even [Graeme] Swann who took two wickets - first was of [Suresh] Raina who tried playing on the back foot and the second was [Gautam] Gambhir who was injured. So Swann did not do any damage at all. It was their fast bowlers who did that," Saqlain said.

According to Saqlain, the Lord's Test was a "fast bowler's match" and he was aghast that Harbhajan was being blamed for the bowling woes. "Now if India had scored 400 runs (in the first innings) then the situation would've been different. Sachin [Tendulkar] was not feeling well, Gambhir was injured, [Virender] Sehwag is not there in the batting line-up. Then why are you putting pressure on Harbhajan?"

At the back end of his own career with Pakistan, Saqlain stagnated largely due to his over-reliance on the doosra and was eventually ignored. He went on to represent Surrey and Sussex in the county cricket. Last year, he helped Saeed Ajmal during Pakistan's Test series in England. Ajmal bagged a five-for at Edgbaston and then played a key role in the victory at The Oval, finishing as the second-best bowler for Pakistan. Ajmal, though, could bank on the two Mohammads - Amir and Asif - to never take their foot off the pressure pedal at the other end. Harbhajan does not have the luxury in the absence of Zaheer.

Saqlain says the key is to understand the conditions, something many captains don't grasp easily. "You can't trust the weather, never in England. When I played county cricket the weather would be a big factor. Notice how England bowled Swann and their fast bowlers. They utilised Swann smartly. In the evening there is a light breeze and the spinner is under pressure. It is the middle session during which the spinners usually come into play. You have to be calculative. You have to use him sensibly."

The conditions apart, Harbhajan knows he's been struggling. He understands wickets don't come easily to him anymore, that the pressure of being the India's lead spinner will always remain. Earlier this year, Harbhajan had said that Swann's success inspired him to do well on the tour of South Africa, where he picked up 15 wickets in three Tests. He said he learned to give himself a chance, bowl wicket-to-wicket lines and lengths, just like Swann. He will do well to remember those words again.

On the eve of the Trent Bridge Test, after batting for 20 minutes, in which he focussed on leaving the ball, he went back to bowling in the nets briefly. He later turned to the pitch, bent down on his knees as if he was praying, and checked the surface at both ends. He then stood with his back to the pavilion, visualised bowling from that end and walked away. Yesterday Harbhajan was flinging hail stones. Today, much calmer, he did what he knows best. Angry fans can sit still. And expect.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY kalyanbk on | July 29, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    India has adequate spin replacements in Mishra, Ojha, Ashwin or even Murali Karthik who has county experience. The difference is that Harbhajan is an attacking batsman unlike these others. India is perhaps picking a bowler based on his batting skills. At present even Yuvraj could have a better outing as a spinner.

  • POSTED BY KrazyCricketKid on | July 29, 2011, 14:57 GMT

    Harbhajan Singh should be dropped. Ravichandran Ashwin should be given a chance in test matches!

  • POSTED BY B.C.G on | July 29, 2011, 14:47 GMT

    Swann didn't fail at all.He kept pressure onthe batsmen.Tremlett picked only 4 wickets,yet he troubled.In 2007 at TrentBridge,Sidebottom bowled as well as Zaheer.Yet he got only 1 wicket for his efforts.See the replays before commenting ignorantly.

  • POSTED BY getsetgopk on | July 29, 2011, 13:15 GMT

    the turbanator is over hyped because thats the best a country of over a billion can come up with. had there been a bowler of slightly better quality none would've heard about him. you need a bowler who can strike when most needed. stacking up useless wickets to your name wont make you a match winner.

  • POSTED BY SouthPaw on | July 29, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    The funny thing is that Harbajan is not interested in bowling. He thinks that he is a batsman, thanks to a couple of hundreds and some 50s. Look at him walk to the nets with 5 bats, gloves and a batting helmet in his hands!

  • POSTED BY Positive_Critic on | July 29, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    In England you don't expect spinners to run through sides... We needed a steady spinner.. Who better than a decent left arm orthodox spinner.. Poor Ojha, the last I recall of him was bowling really well against the Lankans... Ojha would have been a perfect foil coz he has that ability to take 2 roles, one of an attacker if and when there is help from the wicket and can also defend if needed

  • POSTED BY Jose on | July 29, 2011, 10:11 GMT

    Best spinner India has at the moment is R Ashwin and Indian selectors should have gambled him. I am sure England would struggle with his variations and carrom balls.

  • POSTED BY on | July 29, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    Bhajji has being predictable & he has to repair just that. He has to try & get the key players out. If needed he should quit T20 (including IPL) & concentrate on the longer formats of the game. And not only Bhajji, but also the others should step up.

    We can win this series in England. We can even handle them a 3-1 scoreline. Their pace attack is far less menacing than the last time we were here (in 2007).

    We must keep in mind a 11-man English team got the better of a 9-man Indian team on their best turf at Lords. If India could have saved this match (which was surely possible), it would have been remarkable.

    Nevertheless, India should play better cricket in the upcoming tests. This English team is nothing more than a "piece of cake"...

  • POSTED BY Positive_Critic on | July 29, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    There are 2 ways to look at it... 1. Harbhajan is a brilliant off spinner with 400+ wickets to his name... He is India's leader in the Spin department... Most experienced bowler.... If these factors are taken into consideration than I believe Bhajji has not done justice to his reputation.. If Bhajji himself believes himself to be that great a bowler than I feel he has let himself n his nation down.. For one he cannot lead like Kumble did... he doesnt have it in him to groom younger spinners.. Another thing is on a helpful wicket he is deadly.. spits venom but on a wicket that doesnt bounce/spin he is utterly useless ... As an experienced bowler he is expected to be helpful to the team cause by either blocking one end up but he is no good at that.. The likes of Warne did not always have favoring conditions.. but over the period of time warne/kumble developed methods to be potent on unfavorable conditions.. Bhajji has not evolved like these guys

  • POSTED BY Sukumar_Kantri on | July 29, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    The bowler's stats mainly depends on the playing conditions and the fielders support.Bhajji hd many dropped catches in the last 2 series which eventually had not fetched results for him and the team.Had Dhoni caught Prior in 1st innings of Bhajji, the scenario would have become different who made 71 and had a good stand with Kevin.Consider this case, Dhoni had caught Prior for duck off Bhajji in 1st innings, Eng 375 allout. India 286.Eng Lead 89 runs, this would have made a greater impact and Eng would have been in a position to fight hard back in 2nd innings for a lead of 450.It happened the other way and people keep blaming a spinner for not taking wickets on pace friendly track. The so called best spinner now-Swann too failed, who notices that? Why blame on Bhajji alone when India had only 3 bowlers and the pacers dint make much impact? you expect spinner to attack on pace wicket???

  • POSTED BY kalyanbk on | July 29, 2011, 15:09 GMT

    India has adequate spin replacements in Mishra, Ojha, Ashwin or even Murali Karthik who has county experience. The difference is that Harbhajan is an attacking batsman unlike these others. India is perhaps picking a bowler based on his batting skills. At present even Yuvraj could have a better outing as a spinner.

  • POSTED BY KrazyCricketKid on | July 29, 2011, 14:57 GMT

    Harbhajan Singh should be dropped. Ravichandran Ashwin should be given a chance in test matches!

  • POSTED BY B.C.G on | July 29, 2011, 14:47 GMT

    Swann didn't fail at all.He kept pressure onthe batsmen.Tremlett picked only 4 wickets,yet he troubled.In 2007 at TrentBridge,Sidebottom bowled as well as Zaheer.Yet he got only 1 wicket for his efforts.See the replays before commenting ignorantly.

  • POSTED BY getsetgopk on | July 29, 2011, 13:15 GMT

    the turbanator is over hyped because thats the best a country of over a billion can come up with. had there been a bowler of slightly better quality none would've heard about him. you need a bowler who can strike when most needed. stacking up useless wickets to your name wont make you a match winner.

  • POSTED BY SouthPaw on | July 29, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    The funny thing is that Harbajan is not interested in bowling. He thinks that he is a batsman, thanks to a couple of hundreds and some 50s. Look at him walk to the nets with 5 bats, gloves and a batting helmet in his hands!

  • POSTED BY Positive_Critic on | July 29, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    In England you don't expect spinners to run through sides... We needed a steady spinner.. Who better than a decent left arm orthodox spinner.. Poor Ojha, the last I recall of him was bowling really well against the Lankans... Ojha would have been a perfect foil coz he has that ability to take 2 roles, one of an attacker if and when there is help from the wicket and can also defend if needed

  • POSTED BY Jose on | July 29, 2011, 10:11 GMT

    Best spinner India has at the moment is R Ashwin and Indian selectors should have gambled him. I am sure England would struggle with his variations and carrom balls.

  • POSTED BY on | July 29, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    Bhajji has being predictable & he has to repair just that. He has to try & get the key players out. If needed he should quit T20 (including IPL) & concentrate on the longer formats of the game. And not only Bhajji, but also the others should step up.

    We can win this series in England. We can even handle them a 3-1 scoreline. Their pace attack is far less menacing than the last time we were here (in 2007).

    We must keep in mind a 11-man English team got the better of a 9-man Indian team on their best turf at Lords. If India could have saved this match (which was surely possible), it would have been remarkable.

    Nevertheless, India should play better cricket in the upcoming tests. This English team is nothing more than a "piece of cake"...

  • POSTED BY Positive_Critic on | July 29, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    There are 2 ways to look at it... 1. Harbhajan is a brilliant off spinner with 400+ wickets to his name... He is India's leader in the Spin department... Most experienced bowler.... If these factors are taken into consideration than I believe Bhajji has not done justice to his reputation.. If Bhajji himself believes himself to be that great a bowler than I feel he has let himself n his nation down.. For one he cannot lead like Kumble did... he doesnt have it in him to groom younger spinners.. Another thing is on a helpful wicket he is deadly.. spits venom but on a wicket that doesnt bounce/spin he is utterly useless ... As an experienced bowler he is expected to be helpful to the team cause by either blocking one end up but he is no good at that.. The likes of Warne did not always have favoring conditions.. but over the period of time warne/kumble developed methods to be potent on unfavorable conditions.. Bhajji has not evolved like these guys

  • POSTED BY Sukumar_Kantri on | July 29, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    The bowler's stats mainly depends on the playing conditions and the fielders support.Bhajji hd many dropped catches in the last 2 series which eventually had not fetched results for him and the team.Had Dhoni caught Prior in 1st innings of Bhajji, the scenario would have become different who made 71 and had a good stand with Kevin.Consider this case, Dhoni had caught Prior for duck off Bhajji in 1st innings, Eng 375 allout. India 286.Eng Lead 89 runs, this would have made a greater impact and Eng would have been in a position to fight hard back in 2nd innings for a lead of 450.It happened the other way and people keep blaming a spinner for not taking wickets on pace friendly track. The so called best spinner now-Swann too failed, who notices that? Why blame on Bhajji alone when India had only 3 bowlers and the pacers dint make much impact? you expect spinner to attack on pace wicket???

  • POSTED BY adith_thegod on | July 29, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    The best Indian spinner in England right now is...... Murali Kartik!

  • POSTED BY on | July 29, 2011, 7:48 GMT

    he has'nt been able to add variety to his bowling..people have got accustomed to his bowling ....pitch just outside off slow turn nothing threatening...easy stuff.... time for a good wrist spinner.... but aswin could have been good as he has the surprise element in him...

  • POSTED BY rnpv on | July 29, 2011, 6:34 GMT

    Bhajji is one of India's best bowlers no doubt...but has to reinvent and rethink his bowling strategies....He always seems to try contain a batsmen rather than going for wickets.. He seems much to be a medium pacer who spin the ball a bit... Come on Bhajji give more flight and add more revolutions on the ball...You''ll do better as Kumble did..... Kill the IPL save Indian cricket....

  • POSTED BY aarpee2 on | July 29, 2011, 6:12 GMT

    All things being equal it is evident Harbhajan is struggling with both line and length.His is unable to break a partnership nor trouble a new batsmen to the crease.He is finding bowling out even tailenders difficult.It is true Lord's may not be the ideal surface for any spinner.However it must be remembered he did not cover himself with glory in the recent tour of WI even on turning tracks- At Lord in the absence of Zaheeri he failed to back Praveen in the first and Ishant in the second by leaking runs on either side of the wicket.Even a rookie like Bishoo and our own Mishra looked more penetrative in the WI...His performance in his last 25 tests reflect the state of his mind and his own lack of match winning spells..Remember great spinners like VV Kumar,Rajinder Goel and Shivalkar were sidelined and hardly found a place in test teams. Time to give Mishra, Ojha or Ashwin a chance sooner than later.Bhajji still has time and can stage a comeback-no one is indispensable.

  • POSTED BY on | July 29, 2011, 6:11 GMT

    bhajji perform or just leave.. there are so much of young talents ready to fill your boots... and they will do that more efficiently than you

  • POSTED BY symsun on | July 29, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Remember India success came when they had runs from the lower order batsman. If not runs atleast their partnerships. So nothing wrong if harbhajan bats in nets. If the lower order had not thrown their wickets, the scores will be different in both the innings in Lords.

  • POSTED BY Cricketsphere on | July 29, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    @This is what i have been saying throughout. That the match was lost by the batsmen, and everybody is lynching harbhajan. Remember, he has been instrumental in india going on to becomme No. 1 .

  • POSTED BY on | July 29, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    Indian fielders need to buckle up. They are not providing Bhajji the support that he needs. Grabbing to one of those tough chance would have changed complexion of game and Harbhajan's form as well. Dhoni missed a catch of I think Matt prior in the second innings and dravid failed to grab at least two half opportunities. Also otherwise good umpire Asad Rauf gave Stuart Broad not out on plumb LBW appeal. I guess Harbhajan just needs to enjoy more with a SMILE. That could change a lot of things.

  • POSTED BY kingcobra85 on | July 29, 2011, 4:11 GMT

    why you guys demand so much from Mukund who was playing in his first test ever in england and 4 test overall..Its fair that we expect atleast a good economy rate from harbhajan who will be playing 98 tests and has over 400 wickets... He is no newbie anymore he cannot blame anything expect himself for such a show. Please dont find reasons for his failures there is just one he is not the surprise he was before..bring in the carrom ball or flippers instead of long hops from harbhajan

  • POSTED BY phoenixsteve on | July 29, 2011, 3:36 GMT

    Funny thing how India don't have cricketers...... they have "stars" or "legends". Maybe that's the problem when they are playing against 11 highly professional CRICKETERS! The Indian "stars and legends" are heading for more humiliation... we'll soon see! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 29, 2011, 3:31 GMT

    This article starts with Harbajan batting !! Well, i was looking at some pics yday of the Indians at nets and there was this pic of Harbajan comming to the nets and he was carrying, pads and helmet and bats !!!! If he is one our best bowlers why is he practising batting ??? And we have supposedly the best batting line up in the world !!!! His batting is not what is reqd. And yes, it would be far better off if he could improve his fielding. Watched him doing police escort duties, ensuring the ball crossed the boundry ropes !! This IPL has mucked up our cricketers, too much money, loads of arrogance and the good times !! Why bother about the country.

  • POSTED BY ns1000 on | July 29, 2011, 3:16 GMT

    The ease with which West Indies and England have played Harbhajan tells me that he is now useless outside the subcontinent. Give Ashwin or Mishra a try selectors. India will loose the next Test if Harbhajan is picked because India will once again bowl with only three bowlers for the entire Test.

  • POSTED BY awalia on | July 29, 2011, 2:17 GMT

    Yes if 400 + wickets with the average more than 4 wickets per match more than kapil, zaheer, bedi, chandershekhar,(Almost one wicket less per match than bhajji) Akram, Ambrose, Walsh, Botham, Brett Lee, Marshal, Younis, Pollak, Imran Khan, Vettori, Holding And so many others to whom you called Legends of the game have under perform than bhajji, HE IS ONE OF THOSE INDIAN CRICKTERS WHO ARE NOT GIVEN THE DESERVED RESPECT, OTHERS ARE KUMBLE, MOHINDER AMARNATH, DRAVID, LAXMAN, there are so many other players who have done nothing yet but are in the highlights, so always think before criticize any performer

  • POSTED BY akasavani on | July 29, 2011, 2:01 GMT

    Harbhajan is in the team just becuase he is Dhoni's pet. It has been many years since he turend in a match winning performance. Time for Mishra to get an extended run in place of Harbhajan.

  • POSTED BY ToTellUTheTruth on | July 29, 2011, 1:46 GMT

    If a Kirk Edwards/M. Samuels of drop dead ranked WI can belt his bowling on spinning, bouncing tracks, then what to say of the Eng batsmen? Drop him. He needs a shock. Give it to him now than later.

  • POSTED BY maddy20 on | July 29, 2011, 1:10 GMT

    @5wombats Hero worship? You are talking about three of the greatest test cricketers of all time. India are always slow starters especially Laxman who averages in the 30's in the first test of every series he has played. He will show the poms how to bat in the Trentbridge test.

  • POSTED BY sachin1bradman2 on | July 29, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    Anyone who is too critical of Harbhajan has no sense of cricketing knowledge or has a ridiculously short memory! This is one of the best fighting cricketers India has ever produced, so what if he's passing through a slightly lean patch? Trott was dropped off the first ball he bowled in the Lords test match, Dhoni put down Broad early on, wonder why no one's talking about those instances! The track was flat, totally unconducive to spin bowling, and all this talk of Swann outbowling Harbhajan is silly and unsubstantiated. Swann took two wickets to injudiciously played shots, so what's the big deal? The Indian batsmen failed to step up and are somehow escaping blame for the Lords fiasco. What about Dhoni's form with the bat? What about Gambhir's performance? What about Zaheer showing up half-fit for the game? The fans should show some loyalty and depth by supporting the players who got them the number 1 test ranking in the first place. Bhajji, the sikh warrior, deserves better.

  • POSTED BY Praxis on | July 29, 2011, 0:16 GMT

    Yeah, blame it on Harbhajan. This isn't fair. It was the much recognized star-studded batting line up who failed. [But I'll admit bhajji seems seriously out of touch recently...]

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 23:12 GMT

    Absence of Zaheer/other left arm seamer will affect Harbajan as it doesn't create the left-armers follow-through foot marks which Harbajan exploits. With the all right-arm seamers combination, left-arm spin/leg-spin will be more useful.

  • POSTED BY khiladisher on | July 28, 2011, 23:05 GMT

    @5WOMBATS-YOUR COMMENTS ON OUR LEGENDARY CRICKETERS ARE IN BAD TASTE-SACHIN-SEHWAG-DRAVID AND LAXMAN ARE LEGENDS ALL OVER THE GLOBE WITH CRICKET RECORDS GALORE-SO YOUR NEGATIVE COMMENTS ON OUR LEGENDS SHOW YOUR LACK OF PROPER KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE GAME OF CRICKET AND ITS TRADITIONS-P.S-WATS WITH THE CAPS LOCK .

  • POSTED BY dilipm on | July 28, 2011, 23:02 GMT

    Harbhajan is bowling flat and without much loop!He rarely bowls the doosra and as such is predictable. Without the element of surprise he is ineffective.When he first arrived on the scene he gave the ball a real "rip'. Now his deliveries do not have the same bite unless the wicket breaks up and causes uneven bounce! His batting in both innings was irresponsible.He seemed as if he would rather stay in the pavilion rather than tough it out. For a batsman with 2 test centuries and a host of 50s he looked all at sea.In the 2nd innings when Raina was going strong Harbhajan could have defended stoutly and allowed the partnership to build but he threw away his wicket with a desperate skied hook!On top of that his fielding has become pathetic. Did anyone notice his belly jiggling underneath his shirt? He needs competition in the team and maybe Ashwin can provide this. Competition would give him a reality check!

  • POSTED BY Deepkar on | July 28, 2011, 22:58 GMT

    Bhajji is just not that good look he is suppos to outplay swan on any day not bcoz he is better than him but bcoz he is bowling against england batsman who r not as good as indian batsman in facing spin and bhajji should be greatful to god that he dosent need to bowl agains indians as i think he will get match figures of 1 for 300 Against viru, gambhir, rd, srt and vvs his only wicket will be viru when he will try to hit him out of stedium to complet his 100 and will get cought on boundry as he gets out to lesser spinners like bhajji.

  • POSTED BY vijaykanth59 on | July 28, 2011, 22:56 GMT

    swann was equally worse.. i dont believe 'bottling one end up'..'keeping tight at other end' ..bowlers are there to take wickets .. swann is only good against aussie .. raina kept him at bay during the sec innings..india will surely make swann an ordinary bowler by the end of the series...

  • POSTED BY S.N.Singh on | July 28, 2011, 22:56 GMT

    HARBHAJAN IS GREAT OFF-SPINNER AND A GREAT PLAYER SERVING INDIA. HARBHAJAN POBLEM IS THAT HE IS BOWLING ACCORDING TO GAME PLAN. AWAY FROM GAME PLAN HE SHOULD BOWL ON THE OFF STUMP WHERE HE CAN USE HIS FLIPPER AND DORSA. IF BROAD WAS GIVEN OUT WHEN HIT IN THE WICKET WHEN WA ABOUT 5 RUNS. THE WHOLE 1 ST. TEST WOULD HAVE BEN A DIFFERENT GAME. DHONI HAVE TO HAVE ABOUT 5 DEEP FIELDSMAN FOR HARBHAJAN AT AL TIME. PITERSEN HIT OUT ABOUT FIVE TIMES IN LONG ON AND LONG OFF. MUST HAVE FIELDSMAN IN THE DEEP. ALSO 3 FIELDSMEN DEEP ON THE LEGSIDE ESPECIALLY FOR PEITERSEN AND TROT. THEY GET BOUNDRY EASILY BETWEEN SQUUARE LEG AND MID-WICKET. IT ALL ABOUT FIELD PLACING AND LET HIM BOWL TO THAT FIELD. WITH A DEEP EXTRA COVER.

  • POSTED BY CricketChat on | July 28, 2011, 22:45 GMT

    I think it is time Ind team selectors realize and let him know that he is not an automatic selection anymore, a status he enjoyed since Kumble's retirement. The biggest problem with Harbhajan's bowling is that there is no longer a surprise element. It seems has hasn't added a great deal of variety to his bowling. Ind selectors must try both off and leg spinners based on the opposition rather than preferring non-performing Harbhajan all the time.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    Why is no one criticizing Dhoni for his poor wicket keeping, match after match he has dropped cathces off bhajjis bowling, dhoni dosent deserve a place in the team based on performances. Dhoni should be left out o the team before a player like harbhagan singh is left out. I feel the harbhagan singh could have had 5 wickets this match if it was not for the umpires and dhoni. Dhoni and harbhagan both played very poorley in the world cup too, yuvraj chould have made the 90 that dhoni made in the final if he came in before dhoni as he was in form. Also why is tendulkar not being critisized for playing in a mathc when he had symptoms of an infection before the match started.

  • POSTED BY cricket__fan on | July 28, 2011, 22:39 GMT

    I cannot understand why Indian media keeps finding all sorts of reasons for Harbhajan's failure. He is simply not good enough at this level, period. Apart from one series against Australia more than 10 years ago, he has hardly done anything worth mentioning. Perhaps harbhajan has made more contributions with his bat than his main job, which is to take wickets. Only in India can a cricketer contuinue to get picked purely on the basis of reputation rather than performance.

  • POSTED BY dsig3 on | July 28, 2011, 22:34 GMT

    This England squad face the best off spinner in the world every day. Harbajan is a fantastic bowler but he is a step below Swann at this point in his career. Its England, more focus should be on your fast bowlers not your spinner. I dont think he will be in a position to affect the game that much.

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | July 28, 2011, 22:27 GMT

    Replace Harbhajan with Rahul Sharma!!!! I second that. Also drop small finger Mishra who can't put enough revolution. Not good for test. where is big spinning leggies in Indian domestic cricket. Anyone can do off spin. Not much effort. We need Imran tahir type spinner with bigger palm and big finders to put enough revolution on ball.

  • POSTED BY Alexk400 on | July 28, 2011, 22:24 GMT

    Drop Spinner. Drop Bhajji. Mishra is useless as well. No spinner for trent bridge. Bring in 4 fast bowler.1. Mukund 2. Dhoni 3.Dravid 4. Sachin 5. VVS laxman 6. Raina. 7. Yuvi 8. P kumar 9. Ishant sharma 10. Sreesanth 11, Munaf Patel. Raina and yuvi can do spin duties. If dhoni is afraid to open then yuvi must open. And free to throw the bat. Just slam bam. if it clicks ...england bowlers will start to spray and Dravid , Sachin can exploit the bowling. India MUST ATTACK with opening partnership not going into shell again. That will be disaster waiting to happen.

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | July 28, 2011, 22:14 GMT

    @Vikram Gahlot: "How come there is no talk of Swann's performance in the same match.." Possibly because he played on the winning side? IMO there is no need to talk about Harbhajan - the talk should be about the failure of the "powerful" "legendary" indian batting line up to score 300 runs in either innings in perfect batting conditions. They lost the game, not Harbhajan. @khiladisher; Turn your Caps Lock off.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 21:29 GMT

    I admire Bhajji for his spirit but have never been a great admirer of his performance sprcially overseas.While his performance in the lords test was immensely disappointing (the contarst with Swann's bowling was stark),his performance during the recent windies tour did not exactly set the stands alight.He lacks the courage to toss the ball up and seems to be perpetually in the one day mode.One suspects that he has become a bit complacent because of the unwavering backing of the seniors players as a result of which he is not facing any competition.A spell in the wilderness may rejuvenate him as it did Zaheer and Sehwag when they were dropped from the side.Healthy competition brings out the best in a true sportsman and it is time to test another spinner in the best interests of the side.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 21:22 GMT

    Replace Harbhajan with Rahul Sharma!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 21:03 GMT

    How many wickets did Swann get in the first test ? How come there is no talk of Swann's performance in the same match..

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 20:46 GMT

    Harbhajan should be replaced. Let him go back to domestic cricket and find form. Why doesn't he play county cricket if he wants to get overseas experinece- of well, probably no time left after IPL, rest of the cricket, advertisements, TV shows etc. He and Rohit Sharma are the two most hypes players who have done little good for India. If you count the number of match winning performances by Bhajji, you can count them on fingertips. As far as premier bowler is concerned, I have seen many matches in which India played with two spinners and in almost al the cases, every other bowler has bowled better than him. So what makes him the premier bowler except that we have replaced every other bowler except him. He is like a wicket keeper; you dont have the best in th3 world but you are keeping him because you must keep one in team by law. Its time we start thinking seriously about picking people on merit or forget about being number 1.

  • POSTED BY khiladisher on | July 28, 2011, 20:45 GMT

    HARBHAJAN FOR A LONG TIME HAS BEEN A TOURIST IN THIS INDIAN CRICKET TEAM-JUST BECAUSE WE ARE THE #1 TEAM IN THE WORLD AND ALSO WON THE WORLD CUP,THE FACT IS THAT GETTING EVEN 1 WICKET HAS BEEN A STRUGGLE OVER THE PAST 3 YEARS-IF BHAJJI DOES NOT PERFORM IN TRENT BRIDGE-WE HAVE TO SURELY LOOK FOR OTHER OPTIONS.

  • POSTED BY vj3478 on | July 28, 2011, 20:30 GMT

    Bhajji needs a break from critics and more importantly from Cricket!

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | July 28, 2011, 20:21 GMT

    A lot of indian fans have been going after Harbhajan - but it really wasn't his fault. It was the indian batsmen who just didn't cash in on that pitch in those good sunny conditions. But it seems to be a part of the Hero-Worship that Laxman, Tendulkar, Dhoni, etc, DON'T get the blame! Someone has got to score the runs - and who better than the so-called "3 Legends"? Dravid did his bit and I think Raina. But IMHO to be bowled out twice for under 300 runs each Innings in those conditions was inexcusable. Harbhajan is a BOWLER, it was failure of BATSMEN to score enough runs which meant india could not even draw the game.

  • POSTED BY TRAM on | July 28, 2011, 19:46 GMT

    So, if the pitch favors only spinners (which is why Harbajan couldn't get wkt) why select him in the XI?? Why cant India play 4 fast bowlers. If Sreesanth played *in place of Harbajan* India would have done better right??? Would Dhoni/Indian management dare do it?

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 19:44 GMT

    The are no ifs and butts. Fire Harbhajan Singh. His cricket is over. He should pack up if India is to show any thing.

  • POSTED BY samudralakiku on | July 28, 2011, 19:30 GMT

    To answer Saqlains question "why are you putting pressure on Harbhajan?" - Because he has not performed well for quite some time. That is why everyone is questioning his position. If this is the only match he did not perform, no one would have questioned him. He seems to have forgotten the Doosra completely. No variations and completely one dimentional bowling now.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 19:07 GMT

    He is a boastful cricketer who has assumed that he will always play all matches irrespective of this form.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 18:59 GMT

    Though I am never a great fan of Harbhajan, it is not right to criticisize a player befroe giving enough chances. In prevailing conditions in Lords both the spinners from either side did not do anyhting substantial. In England in particular it is difficultto get wickets for spinners. How many wickets were taken by Srilankan spinners. Ifharbhajan cant make an impact in te next test too, a rethinking ofstrategies may be needed forthis tour. But he still remains India's premier spinner.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    One thing to take note of is that Dravid dropped Trott off the first ball Bhajji bowled in the match. We all know Harbhajan to be a confidence bowler who looks totally different after he gets a wicket early. In my opinion it was a major turning point in the Lord's test.

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  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    One thing to take note of is that Dravid dropped Trott off the first ball Bhajji bowled in the match. We all know Harbhajan to be a confidence bowler who looks totally different after he gets a wicket early. In my opinion it was a major turning point in the Lord's test.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 18:59 GMT

    Though I am never a great fan of Harbhajan, it is not right to criticisize a player befroe giving enough chances. In prevailing conditions in Lords both the spinners from either side did not do anyhting substantial. In England in particular it is difficultto get wickets for spinners. How many wickets were taken by Srilankan spinners. Ifharbhajan cant make an impact in te next test too, a rethinking ofstrategies may be needed forthis tour. But he still remains India's premier spinner.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 19:07 GMT

    He is a boastful cricketer who has assumed that he will always play all matches irrespective of this form.

  • POSTED BY samudralakiku on | July 28, 2011, 19:30 GMT

    To answer Saqlains question "why are you putting pressure on Harbhajan?" - Because he has not performed well for quite some time. That is why everyone is questioning his position. If this is the only match he did not perform, no one would have questioned him. He seems to have forgotten the Doosra completely. No variations and completely one dimentional bowling now.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 19:44 GMT

    The are no ifs and butts. Fire Harbhajan Singh. His cricket is over. He should pack up if India is to show any thing.

  • POSTED BY TRAM on | July 28, 2011, 19:46 GMT

    So, if the pitch favors only spinners (which is why Harbajan couldn't get wkt) why select him in the XI?? Why cant India play 4 fast bowlers. If Sreesanth played *in place of Harbajan* India would have done better right??? Would Dhoni/Indian management dare do it?

  • POSTED BY 5wombats on | July 28, 2011, 20:21 GMT

    A lot of indian fans have been going after Harbhajan - but it really wasn't his fault. It was the indian batsmen who just didn't cash in on that pitch in those good sunny conditions. But it seems to be a part of the Hero-Worship that Laxman, Tendulkar, Dhoni, etc, DON'T get the blame! Someone has got to score the runs - and who better than the so-called "3 Legends"? Dravid did his bit and I think Raina. But IMHO to be bowled out twice for under 300 runs each Innings in those conditions was inexcusable. Harbhajan is a BOWLER, it was failure of BATSMEN to score enough runs which meant india could not even draw the game.

  • POSTED BY vj3478 on | July 28, 2011, 20:30 GMT

    Bhajji needs a break from critics and more importantly from Cricket!

  • POSTED BY khiladisher on | July 28, 2011, 20:45 GMT

    HARBHAJAN FOR A LONG TIME HAS BEEN A TOURIST IN THIS INDIAN CRICKET TEAM-JUST BECAUSE WE ARE THE #1 TEAM IN THE WORLD AND ALSO WON THE WORLD CUP,THE FACT IS THAT GETTING EVEN 1 WICKET HAS BEEN A STRUGGLE OVER THE PAST 3 YEARS-IF BHAJJI DOES NOT PERFORM IN TRENT BRIDGE-WE HAVE TO SURELY LOOK FOR OTHER OPTIONS.

  • POSTED BY on | July 28, 2011, 20:46 GMT

    Harbhajan should be replaced. Let him go back to domestic cricket and find form. Why doesn't he play county cricket if he wants to get overseas experinece- of well, probably no time left after IPL, rest of the cricket, advertisements, TV shows etc. He and Rohit Sharma are the two most hypes players who have done little good for India. If you count the number of match winning performances by Bhajji, you can count them on fingertips. As far as premier bowler is concerned, I have seen many matches in which India played with two spinners and in almost al the cases, every other bowler has bowled better than him. So what makes him the premier bowler except that we have replaced every other bowler except him. He is like a wicket keeper; you dont have the best in th3 world but you are keeping him because you must keep one in team by law. Its time we start thinking seriously about picking people on merit or forget about being number 1.