Australia in India 2012-13

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

Siddhartha Talya in Mumbai

February 10, 2013

Comments: 66 | Text size: A | A

Harbhajan Singh is congratulated on his 400th wicket, West Indies v India, 3rd Test, Dominica, 2nd day, July 7, 2011
Harbhajan Singh says India's bowlers can put Australia's inexperienced under pressure © AFP
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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

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Posted by gnanzcupid on (February 12, 2013, 10:57 GMT)

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

Posted by   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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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?

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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......

Posted by 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..

Posted by wolf777 on (February 11, 2013, 14:33 GMT)

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

Posted by 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!

Posted by vijayvenkatram on (February 11, 2013, 12:06 GMT)

What other comment can be expected from Bhajji. Well he was "Hobson's" choice given the rest of the options. He was dropped and was asked to play in the domestic matches, but despite not having done anything to merit selection has been included in the team. We do not see many quality spinners around, and one reason being quoted is that wickets are getting faster. That sounds absurd. The real reason probably lie in the demographic change and eating patterns. With increasing protein consumption, its very likely that India would produce pace bowlers. If India has to keep producing quality spinners, they should develop bouncy pitches in certain states and old slow turners in other states, which is quite possible in a large mass of land that is India. The other reason lies in the economic incentive of playing in the shorter formats. Why cannot the cash rich BCCI pay higher contract amounts higher than IPL for the core test team (who do not play the IPL)....

Posted by Thandi77 on (February 11, 2013, 10:31 GMT)

Great to see Bhajji back, all be it the only reason he's getting another chance is because India don't possess any other quality spinners. I would have liked to seen Mishra in instead of Ojha, as it seems pointless playing 2 left armers as i'm afraid the average Mr Jadeja will start. Openers I hope Rahane gets to open with Sehwag as i don't think Vijay or Dhawan are test class. In the fast bowling department (or lack of it) i'm doing some prayers for Yadav & Aaron to recover sooner rather than later from injury. Starting 11. Sehwag, Rahane, Pujara, Tendulkar, Kohli, Dhoni, Jadeja, Ashwin, Harbhajan, B Kumar, Ishant.

Posted by siddhartha87 on (February 11, 2013, 10:09 GMT)

its funny really.Bhajji took 32 wickets in 3 tests a decade ago and on basis of that it is said that hes good against aussies.For the record apart from those 3 tests bhajji has 58 wickets against them at an average of 36.15 and strike rate of 72.94.Ordinary really.Dinesh Mongia also scored runs against england or hemang badani against aussies.Should we bring them back too?

Bhajji and Gambhir are two arrogant players.They should perform firsst.

Posted by meanmen on (February 11, 2013, 10:01 GMT)

What a stupid selection this is.. Bhajji is not even effective in domestic ties, let alone international level.. We are still selecting people on reputations..

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 8:54 GMT)

In form Jaffer should be given chance in place of Shekhar Dhavan..anyways considering current selection Murli Vijay should open with Shawag followed by Pujara,Sachin,Kohli..Jadeja should come before dhoni to give him more time to settle down as batsman(remember he had recently 2 triple ton in ranji)..Give rest to Aswin for 1 or 2 tests and Bhajji should bowl with Ojha -Jadeja .. Ishant and kumar should be pace attack

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 8:02 GMT)

well....bhaji can play an important role as a spiner in test matchs nd specially against austrilia who have plenty of left handerz up the order...i thnk the real battle would be aus pace bowling vs india bating ....but indian pacerz should have to contribute coz aus batsmans r not quiet bad against spin as compare to eng batsman

Posted by screamingeagle on (February 11, 2013, 7:05 GMT)

I think Dhoni will go with Ishant and Kumar for seam; Ojha and Bhajji for spin and Jadeja for comic relief :D Batting would be Sehwag and Dhawan, Pujara, Sachin and Kohli, Dhoni. Entertainment will be provided by either Raina or Jadeja.:P

Posted by din7 on (February 11, 2013, 6:53 GMT)

So harbhajan says he's still good enough to play for india. quite funny! and many comments are regardin him best spinner india has, really? he was never a class spinner or good...he was just ok. Out of most wickets he got because of the great kumble and some on poor bouncy inidian tracks and also some as gifts....infact a lot! Lets face it if he was good why at 30 when he shld be in his prime, he's out of team? He's just a rude and arrogant guy and nothin else. And for his selection, its because of lack of quality spinners in domestic circuit, also our selectors lack courage and understanding to give chance to some1 else or try out a new younster even if he fails, just watch at aussies despite of not havin too much talent left, thier selction is still very good

Posted by Samar_Singh on (February 11, 2013, 6:08 GMT)

Bhajji , again a big talk .. Really shocked on Bhajji's selection. What has he done to be selected ? Why is inform Jaffer not selected ? If age is the factor Bhajji is not gonna be any more younger (33 almost).Tendulkar is 38.

Posted by jimbond on (February 11, 2013, 6:07 GMT)

Siddharth Kaul and Jiwanjot played their ass out to improve Punjab's performance in the Ranjis and the one who benefits is the good for nothing Bhajji. Harbajan should also thank the likes of Rohit sharma who gifted him their wickets in the Irani so that Bhajji's support gang of selectors could stake his claim.

He is actually not even good to be in the ROI team, leave aside the Indian side. And given his good fortune, he should have the manners to keep shut and not to give out interviews at this juncture.

Posted by ThemanID on (February 11, 2013, 5:51 GMT)

I kinda agree with jaffer situation. He is 35 no good for future. But then, what about harbhajan, sehwag, tendulkar etc?

Posted by 49sachin96 on (February 11, 2013, 5:31 GMT)

JAffer deserves the spot in replace to gambhir.....poor selection

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 5:07 GMT)

Harbhajan if you think "you're good enough for play for India", it wont be enough. We should decide & the selectors decide. You had a good career with India. Retire now & don't prolong to get in the SA squad & so on. Retire gracefully. There is no rule that we should retire only after we are old. We can retire anytime. And, it is always best to retire when you are in form & not when you "think" you are in form. There is a thing or two to learn from English cricketers. They know when to retire. Retire & Play have an alternate career option now.

Posted by m_ilind on (February 11, 2013, 3:50 GMT)

I think selecting Bhajji is a regressive move by the selectors. He has flopped time and again for several matches, while he hasn't set the domestic season alight either. Maybe, the selectors just want to give him one last chance, hoping that he will make a comeback. If he fails to use this opportunity, he will surely be cast into oblivion.

Posted by shantiratnamaj on (February 11, 2013, 3:46 GMT)

with such a lot of experience he has not done anything to prove that he has got his rythm back. There were no super good performance by him which would convince that he is going to rock the aussies. This is just a "reputation" and "past record" basis selection of Harbajan and i don't know what kind of "hard work" he is referring to. Rest of the selection is very good. Shewag and Sachin should be the next men to go and must make way for Tiwary and Mandeep or Rydu in the team.

Posted by FazleAbed on (February 11, 2013, 3:12 GMT)

If we really consider the fact that australia is weak in spin department, we should also look at the recent success of india in india. won against west indies and new zealand. but do they really won like india does in india? Winning is not always everything. the way you won is important. I hope they come good to prove that they are best in asia. with they recent performance, Pakistan look best in spin department. India should come as strong as they can.....

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 3:08 GMT)

Bhajii should avial this chance, i belive he is true offspinner but he needs lots of support from MSD. he should get a fair chance (atleast 3 tests) because he will out for long time if he doesnt not do good here!

Posted by baskar_guha on (February 11, 2013, 3:03 GMT)

Harbhajan is still the best spinner India has to offer. Ashwin showed promise but for reasons that are unclear has regressed. But youth is on his side to reinvent himself as a test-class offie. Ojha is not attacking enough nor is he restrictive enough so we need to find a left arm option of higher class unless he raises his bar.

Posted by FazleAbed on (February 11, 2013, 3:01 GMT)

As a australian supporter i was happy with ashwin and ojha. Bur your arrival was threat to me. I predict 2-1 in favor of india. But it surely is 3-1 now. From last 12 years i believe India need 3 guys to win a test match and they are Harbhajan, Kumble and laxman. India team should be 1.Dhawan 2.Shewag 3.Pujara 4.Sachin 5.virat 6. ashwin (as a batsman :P) 7. dhoni 8. harbhajan 9. Ishant 10. ojha 11. B Kumar. this is a bad team but good to beat current australian side as they dont know how to play spin after tea.

Posted by siddarthshikhar on (February 11, 2013, 2:45 GMT)

"i m still good enough to play for India" - bhajji might have lost his spin bowling ability but he's surely not lost his sense of humour.. :P

Posted by   on (February 11, 2013, 1:53 GMT)

wasim jaffer should have been in the squad. 35 or not that is demoralizing for any player. he should have been just picked in the squad even if not in the playing eleven. disgrace!

Posted by aussietiger on (February 11, 2013, 0:26 GMT)

Selectors forgot about new looking Aussie team, i don't think they worry much about Harbhajan, he is not the same bowler once he used to be, we should have retained leggie piyush, leg spinners expensive though always they give u break. Now IPL6 nearing indian players mind will be advance pay cheque. so the result 2-1 or 3-1 to Aussies

Posted by Rahulbose on (February 10, 2013, 22:29 GMT)

India would be in a better position if Bhaji was bowling at his best. He has lost the extra top spin and zip of the wicket that made him so effective. Too much limited over cricket also changed him into a more defensive bowler. I would love to see him bowing at his best, but don't have high hopes of that happening.

Posted by Hash_Tag on (February 10, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

He may say he is good enough - of course he would. But why did he skulk away from England in 2011 with what he said was an injury? Pride. Every one of us has his favourites in the India team - but I lost patience with Harbhajan after that infamous business in with the Australian Andrew Symonds. I thought that was a disgrace and a blight on Indian cricket. He should have been dropped permanently for that and if not that then the business with Sreesanth which was appalling. I can't believe that we do not have someone better than Harbhajan Singh for this series.

Posted by PratUSA on (February 10, 2013, 21:19 GMT)

Big talks again by Bhajji as usual. Wrong selection. It's good that Gambhir finally got dropped. But Jafar deserved a chance if nothing else just to make a statement to all players that performance counts and nothing else.

Posted by TheUltimateTruth on (February 10, 2013, 20:00 GMT)

I just don't see Dhoni playing Dhawan or Dinda in the final XI. He develops confidence in some players and goes with them. Jaffer would have had a higher likelihood of playing had he been in the squad. This is unfortunate because it's going to be Vijay. Does anyone know what happened to Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron? Are they both injured until the IPL?

Posted by Dilruksh on (February 10, 2013, 18:35 GMT)

this is what happend against the english they talked what ever they could before the series and resulted in the loosing side hope it doesnt happen this time and bhajji your time is over in cricket look at murali for example he was consistent even till his last match so was kumble

Posted by gsingh7 on (February 10, 2013, 18:35 GMT)

true words from bhajji . when u see ashwin bowl his offspinners with his wierd action and no turn, and compare with little offspinners of bhajji , bhajji looks like murali.

Posted by vathabivaranan on (February 10, 2013, 18:15 GMT)

They could have tried Jaffer instead of Sewag. Any way selectors did a reasonable work and all of us wish the team the best.

Posted by vrkp on (February 10, 2013, 17:40 GMT)

Bhaji seems to have forgotten that Cook and Clarke made their debut against India in India and scored 100s in their first match itself. So, there is no need to be over confident that only Clarke and Watson have experience in playing in India. You never know how the other aussie batters (new comers) are going to be doing. Against our bowling, any decent batsman will be confident of doing well.

Secondly, we need to go with 2 seamers and 2 spinners and 1 all rounder. Dinda may not be great fast bowling, but he has the knack of picking wickets with old ball. With Isant Sharma in some pain, it is not a good idea to play him.

Whether Ashwin or Bhaji plays, they have to stop bowling round the wicket as soon they have been hit for few boundaries.

My playing XI for the first test:

Vijay, Sehwag, Pujara, Tendulkar, Kohli, Dhoni, Jadeja, Bhuvi, Dinda, Ashwin, Ohja.

Posted by 777aditya on (February 10, 2013, 17:01 GMT)

I hope he can match up his words with some memorable bowling against the Aussies, of course, I doubt he will. This is a typical sign of someone with high self esteem but low on confidence, trying to prop his sagging self confidence with overconfident statements.

Posted by Htc-Android on (February 10, 2013, 16:55 GMT)

@gnanzcupid. Because your indian team dont have quality spinners in the domestic circuit. Thats why they have to go with someone like harbhajan. I hope he will turn the ball this time.

Posted by NKSathya on (February 10, 2013, 16:48 GMT)

Harbhajan has still the guts to talk about his bowling!!! So shameless!! How long will his free jolly ride will continue????? Am sure he just wants to play his 100th Test to win a gift from his great mentor and mind-eater Sidhu!!! India will be lucky if he picks up wickets at less than 60 runs average!!! Good news for Indian cricket fans is that his great Indian team-mate Gambhir who is a worser batsman than Harbahajan the last 3 years or so won't be around to hug Harbhajan when he takes a wicket, if at all he gets picked that is!!

Posted by vrn59 on (February 10, 2013, 16:41 GMT)

My IND Test XI for AUS series: Murali Vijay, Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin / Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pragyan Ojha.

Posted by Batmanindallas on (February 10, 2013, 16:20 GMT)

Harbhajan is past his date, they should have tried someone else....

Posted by aahahaa on (February 10, 2013, 16:16 GMT)

I'm still good enough to play for India' - Harbhajan yeah right but the point missed is good enough to play and W I N against the rest. now then you want to say something more

Posted by gkautish on (February 10, 2013, 15:50 GMT)

ind will go wid ishant n bhuvi as seam options and bhajji n ashwin as genuine spinners ... n they will use jadeja as the 5th bowler as aus have many left handers

Posted by gnanzcupid on (February 10, 2013, 15:40 GMT)

Not only in 1998,even now harbhajan is nobody. Only difference is that he wont have anil at the other end who can create pressure paving a way for bhaji to take wickets. Without anil,he cant pick wickets at international level. If a bowler cant even take wickets at the domestic level,how can one expect him to take wickets against the mighty australian team. We saw him bowl against england. Why include this man and waste an youngster's opportunity

Posted by ssruprai on (February 10, 2013, 14:49 GMT)

@Allen Lobo Sir, this test series vs Australia series has 4 test matches :-)

Posted by BnH1985Fan on (February 10, 2013, 14:48 GMT)

Harbhajan's selection highlights a fundamental difference in how players are selected for the national team in India and Australia. Australians build for the future, while India tends to look myopically at short term solutions. Michael Hussey makes a great example, sitting down while still in his prime to pave way for new players. I can't imagine India would ever sit someone like Hussey down in light of his recent performances. Stop gap solutions occasionally do work; so Harbhajan may possibly do well. But his selection does set back those who have much of their career left in front of them. In a country full of talent, as Mr. Ian Chappell has repeatedly pointed, we can't nurture that talent by repeatedly going back to aging starts that are past their prime!

Posted by   on (February 10, 2013, 14:01 GMT)

India will whitewash Australia. 6-0.

Posted by   on (February 10, 2013, 13:49 GMT)

Yes considering performance of our current spinners, yes you are as bad as them!

Posted by ramli on (February 10, 2013, 13:40 GMT)

Playing 3 spinners is suicide ... this is what happened in Mumbai against Eng ... spinners need long spells to find rythm and take wickets ... with 3, we have to under-bowl one of them ... B.Kumar must be included ahead of anybody .... his record in Ranji is adequate and he has already impressed in ODIs bowling 10 overs on the trot ...

Posted by gsingh7 on (February 10, 2013, 13:35 GMT)

@ joe -- india did beat wi ,nz and england last year if u forgot. india also have largest number of cricketers in world, bhajji is selected for this series as he has great record against aus who have mental block against him

Posted by sony_sr on (February 10, 2013, 13:13 GMT)

Considering the poor form of aswin I think harbhajan is a better option. Most probably we will play 3 spinners and ishanth. lets hope bhaji gets back into wicket talking form before the test series.

Posted by   on (February 10, 2013, 13:09 GMT)

It just shows India don't have much talent coming through which is why they go back to players like Singh, Yuvraj, Sehweg and all that because their reserves cannot be trusted to deliver. Should for now play teams of your calibre like Zimbabwe, Ireland, Bangladesh etc who can obviously beat you now.

Posted by RD36 on (February 10, 2013, 13:09 GMT)

No, you're not !!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Sandt on (February 10, 2013, 13:05 GMT)

Hello Bhajji, pls stop talking and prove with performance.We had the same issue when England came. Gambhir was giving big lectures of giving eng back what they have done to us in Eng. We all know what has happened pls stop talking let your bowling talk. And regarding your quote "Hopefully we'll put them under pressure from the first day of the Test match and show how we play cricket here." We have seen what this team is doing nowadays. So don't give these kind of comments. We cricket lovers of India is fedup with this team. Good that alteast Gambir is removed. Please don't bring that useless cricketer back to team. Sehwag please perfom, we need you in the side. Then Dinda- why this guy is in the team. Is he a fast bowler god knows. Dhoni for the sake of Indian team lovers please don't play him and useless Jadeja in the 11.Jadeja is defenitly not a test player.

Posted by   on (February 10, 2013, 13:01 GMT)

It is more the case of empty cupboards as far as bowling is concerned - that Harbhajan is making a comeback rather than a welcome return to form. I would love to fast forward 3-4 years and see how India fares in test cricket. At present, the batting and bowling inspires very little confidence. What is worrying is that nobody seems to be concerned about the long term health of Test Cricket in India as we just jump from one series to another.

Posted by binu.emiliya on (February 10, 2013, 12:55 GMT)

Harbhajan is saying that only Clarke & Watson is having experience in India.That is enough for them dear Bhaji, the same story was there three months back ,instead of Clark & Watson it was Cook & KP and won the series withat limited experience.First of all with your negetive bowling bowling around the stumps to leg side will not make you an attacking bowler,try to attack more with confidence

Posted by rajattiwaari on (February 10, 2013, 12:55 GMT)

I wish he can walk the talk!!

Posted by   on (February 10, 2013, 12:54 GMT)

Shows that India is not that good anyway if everyone is good enough to play

Posted by Webba84 on (February 10, 2013, 12:43 GMT)

Harbhajan talking here sounds a lot more like a test captain than Dhoni has for the last few years.

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