Australia in India 2012-13 February 10, 2013

'I'm still good enough to play for India' - Harbhajan

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The final day of the Irani Cup was a sideshow to the national selection committee's meeting to pick India's squad for the first two Tests against Australia, and Harbhajan Singh, who won a second recall to the India side this season, was left to answer more questions about him being picked than leading Rest of India to a title.

"It's always tough to make comebacks," Harbhajan told reporters at the end of the final day. "I think I have been working really hard on my game, and just being there, trying to give everything I have, it's a new day and a new opportunity for me, that's all I kept telling myself. I'm still good enough to play for India and that's the reason I was playing cricket."

Harbhajan, who played in the Mumbai Test against England late last year before being left out, was included in the Rest of India side following a Ranji Trophy season in which he picked up 16 wickets in five games for Punjab at 32.25. He collected five wickets in the Irani Cup, three of them in the first innings. He was the better of the two spinners, the other being Pragyan Ojha, now a regular in the Indian Test side.

"When you play the Ranji Trophy, sometimes you may take wickets, sometimes you may not," he said about his domestic season. "We played most of our games in Mohali and on kinds of wickets that had a lot of grass. Sometimes the work you've done in your bowling won't show in the results. That could be a reason why the number of wickets I've taken is not in the high 30s or 40s, but I think I've bowled well for Punjab."

The track at the Wankhede Stadium, Harbhajan said, was the one he enjoyed bowling most on in India. "I'm really happy with the way my bowling rhythm is going. And I'm especially happy with the way I bowled here, especially to batsmen like Sachin [Tendulkar] and Wasim [Jaffer], who are very good players of spin bowling. I think I bowled with a lot of control on a true wicket and I'm very happy about it before the Test series."

The bowling attack that has been picked for the Australia series, Harbhajan believed, had the capability to take 20 wickets in a Test. "When I played in my first series against Australia, I was a nobody." Harbhajan made his debut against Australia in 1998, but shot to fame in a famous home series against the same side in 2001, when he picked up 32 wickets in three Tests. "All I can say is that Ishant [Sharma], [Ashok] Dinda, Bhuvan [Bhuveshwar Kumar] and the three spinners - we all have that opportunity and we have the quality to do that."

India were beaten 4-0 when they toured Australia in 2011-12, but Harbhajan said their batsmen's lack of experience in Indian conditions - only Michael Clarke and Shane Watson are among the Australian frontline batsmen to have played a Test in India - would be a challenge for the visitors. "They have a pretty new batting line-up. Apart from Clarke and Watson they have a lot of left-handers. They haven't played much Test cricket and they haven't played in India. This will be a challenging series for them. Hopefully we'll put them under pressure from the first day of the Test match and show how we play cricket here."

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gnanzcupid on February 12, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    catch bowlers like parvez rasool young and select him in the team

  • dummy4fb on February 12, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    India will lose the series. Dropping Ganbhir was a bad decision. He was playing positively even though he was not able to make big scores. If you compare the avg of sachin, dhoni, shewag i dont think they will be over gambhir. Harbhajan singh has been a burden to the team for a long time. I wonder why he is still selected. Over rated player, on what basis is he selected>? wonders wont happen..india will loose.

  • dummy4fb on February 12, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    I can clearely see that INDIA LOSING THE SERIES . With this kind of bowling attack. All blames to BCCi. Not promoting the game & players at the school level.

  • cric_fan123 on February 12, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    bhajji continues to crack me up. Really hilarious!! Previously it was "wickets are not important; look at how bowler is bowling too". God help our Indian team filled with such arrogant people. Until BCCI does something to redeem themselves I am going to support oppositions for all the series.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on February 12, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    Yes he is still good enough to play for India and I'm good enough to get 100m gold at Olympics. Seriously? What exactly did he do to get selected in the first place?

  • itsthewayuplay on February 11, 2013, 22:12 GMT

    Yes if Harbajan considers he's still good enough for India, that shows you how rubbish this Indian test team is. He's nothing since being dropped and has just bided his time before walking back into the Indian team. He wouldn't even make a top Englsh county side.

  • realfan on February 11, 2013, 16:59 GMT

    i think he is just given A chance by selectors, just to complete 100th test.... i am saying A because its only 1 chance and i dont think he will pick more than 2 wickets in that match......

  • TrueFactors on February 11, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    (1) Dhavan is a good selection. (2) I wish Jaffer could make it. He has always been prolific, and he supposed to be there all time ahead of Gambhir etc. In fact, Dravid's existence stopped Jaffer forever. (3) Sehwag is best when in form. (4) B.Kumar earned ticket thanks to Kulasekara's great swing performance against aussie team. (5) Jadeja must be in team, at Number5-6 batsman and a full-time spinner. He is intelligent in bowling and a better batsman at test level. He is not so good for short format but he is good for long format. (6) Sachin may retire soon, and this or SA tour can be his last one. His stay at crease add pressure on other batsmen since they all give more value to him. Otherwise he is still good enough for team. (7) My team could be - Jaffer / Sehwag, Dhavan, Pujara, Sachin, Tiwari, Jadeja, Dhoni, Ashwin/Bhajji, B.Kumar, Ozha, Sharma. Promote B Kumar at times. He can deliver as batsman too. Wish Indian team good luck with what we have anyway..

  • wolf777 on February 11, 2013, 14:33 GMT

    Well, the most important question is…..will he be able to take wickets?

  • jwayong on February 11, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    Stats and history don't change. You guys heard the guy! Bhajji is back, and he's the best spinner that India got right now and at least he's willing to do well. I am surprised no one is talking bout Tendulkar, he's been so low key, maybe it's his last series... he doesn't deserve the place anyway. Might as well give other youngsters to play!