India v Australia, 1st Test, Chennai, 2nd day February 23, 2013

Laxman criticises Dhoni's use of Harbhajan

ESPNcricinfo staff

Former India batsman VVS Laxman has criticised MS Dhoni's use of offspinner Harbhajan Singh in the Chennai Test. Making a comeback to the side and playing his 100th Test, Harbhajan bowled 25 overs - 11 fewer than Ravindra Jadeja - and took one wicket. Jadeja went for 71 in 36 overs, 16 runs fewer than Harbhajan conceded, and took two wickets.

There was a time on the second morning when Harbhajan had not bowled for about 200 minutes; his last over had been about 20 minutes before tea on day one. When he did get to bowl, 51 overs after he had last operated, Harbhajan picked up his first wicket - that of Peter Siddle - but was removed an over after that. Even in his previous Test, in Mumbai against England, Harbhajan bowled about half the number of overs that R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha did. Laxman said he was surprised Harbhajan was not utilised properly.

"I am really surprised with the tactics of MS Dhoni," Laxman said on air in Star Cricket's commentary on the Test. "You want your spinners to take the major bowling chunk. It is surprising that Harbhajan hasn't come into action since yesterday tea time. You want to have more and more variety. You should know which bowler the batsman will not be comfortable facing. That's going to be the spinners of the Indian team."

Laxman said these tactics could crush Harbhajan's confidence. "Harbhajan, who is low on confidence, [now] he knows that the captain doesn't trust his ability," he said. "Secondly, he is not getting enough overs to get back in rhythm. There is a lot of Test-match cricket left in this match, and I am sure that he will play a big part as the match progresses. So it is very important to give confidence to Harbhajan. Not giving him bowling, obviously you are sending wrong signals to him."

Laxman brought up the Mumbai Test too. "This is what happened in Mumbai Test match when Ojha and Ashwin bowled almost double the number of overs what Harbhajan bowled. Especially for someone coming back into the Test team after a long time, he will be low on confidence, he will be a little insecure, and that's when as a captain you are supposed to encourage your bowler."

Laxman said that Harbhajan was not new to performing well for India, and just needed an arm around the shoulder. "You are talking about a guy who is playing his 100th Test match, so obviously he has won a lot of Test matches for the country. He has been a matchwinner for the country, he has done really well for the country, and everyone knows what he can do as a bowler. So it is very important for captain to give him the confidence, and once that is back I am sure he can deliver the goods for the captain."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Al on February 26, 2013, 23:09 GMT

    VVS has lost his mind. Bhajji is not even amongst the top 50 bowlers in India today. It was a travesty that Bhajji was selected in the first place. We have better spinners in Rasool, Dhruv, and Nadeem.

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2013, 15:40 GMT

    It's very simple that Bhajji is not bowling well to earn a confidence in Captain's mind. VVS may air his personal opinion but you can't give a bowler a practice session in middle of test match. Any cricket lover can see Bhajji is not the same. It's better to invest money and time in younger players.Right now may be Rasool can be one as a competitor of Jadeja as all rounder and Bhajji can easily loose his place for left armer sitting on the bench.

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    Yes I agree with VVS, I think Harbhajan Singh is a much better bowler than R. Ashwin, Harbhajan have more control on the ball than Ashwin. Ofcourse Ashwin have more variety than harbhajan but he dont know how to handle these variety, we already had seen this against England where he rarely bowled off spin as we know he is an off spinner he tried so much variation in that series and became preictable to those batsman who have problem to play spin. If anybody low in confidence then the duty of a captain is bring back his confidence on him too as he is pick up as a frontline bowler not a part timer. If Ashwin is much better bowler than harbhajan then why he took 32 overs to take just 5 wickets, is it a sign of a good bowler, and Ashiwn is 5th fastest bowler to take 75 wickets and his average is over 29. any bowler can take wicket if he have enough overs to bowl. in harbhajn's peak he rarely bowled over 25+ overs to take 5 or more wicket.

  • Syed on February 25, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    Good job Dhoni for righting the mistake of selecting Harbhajan. He shouldnt have been selected in the first place, but if Dhoni had persisted with him after seeing how he was bowling, that would have been a second mistake.

  • Dark on February 25, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    @ nyc_missile- R u an Indian mate???? Jadeja and Vijey are future Indian cricket where as bhaji's glorious days are over... Did you at least saw how he bowled the first day???? What ever Dhoni does, He'll do it in the best interest for the team... Dhoni is THE guy who got Indian cricket to this glorious number one position in the world... Respect the guy people... He is the best and He does what is best for team India....

  • karthik on February 24, 2013, 23:54 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas thanks sire

  • Al on February 24, 2013, 22:50 GMT

    We just have to look at how VVS captained Hyderabad team to see how pathetic he was as a captain. He was a great batsman, but as a captain, he falls in Tendulkar category. That's saying something because we all know how Indian team suffered when Tendulkar was the captain.

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2013, 19:03 GMT

    Nothing is as easy as it can be to sit on the other side of the desk and criticise. Isn't it? After-all we all know how you led the Hyd team!

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    Indian team is slowly becoming another CSK team except the unlucky players like Subramaniam Badrinath & Wriddiman Saha. Time has come to think beyond Dhoni as captain..........

  • Madhav on February 24, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    I don't understand what's all this sympathy towards harbhajan, everyone saying that he will be completely different once he gets a wicket and everything. So what do we do ask the opposition to start one down? he was absolutely rubbish on day 1. Jadeja got more overs than Harbhajan because he bowled better than him, as simple as that. Accept the facts and stop whining vvs.