Harbhajan happy with Hyderabad pitch
He picked up the last four wickets and more than played his part in a superb Indian bowling performance on the second morning. At the end of the day's play, Harbhajan Singh was in good spirits. He may have been Man of the Match for his hundred in Ahmedabad, but the conditions for bowlers at the Motera for the second Test in succession had driven him to distraction. This surface, on which India took the last six New Zealand wickets for 81 runs, was much more to his liking.
"This is a good wicket for Test cricket," he said. "There is good bounce for fast bowlers, even for spinners. If you bowl slower in the air, there is bounce and so far, it has played pretty well. I hope it will continue to play even better for the bowlers as the days go on. On the third and fourth days, it might spin, it might not. But definitely, there is bounce."
Harbhajan had been the subject of criticism in recent times, with some pointing to a 40-plus average and a strike-rate in excess of 100 for the calendar year. When asked why India were so reluctant to cash in on their traditional strength, spin, his answer bordered on the indignant. "I think you should ask those people who make the wickets because I don't know," he said. "In every country the conditions are different. In Australia, there is bounce. In India, I don't know when I last played on a turner. Yes, I did play one match in Kanpur [2008 against South Africa]."
Harbhajan cited the pitch at the Brabourne Stadium as the sort that should be prepared if "Test cricket is to be preserved". At the Cricket Club of India last December, Sri Lanka won the toss and made nearly 400, but India won by an innings, with wickets for pace and spin alike. "We're not asking for a spin track," he said. "Sporting track just means that on the first day, the fast bowler must get carry, the edges must carry. On the fourth and fifth days, if there is turn and bounce, what's wrong with it? CCI was probably the best wicket I have played."
A cautious thumbs-up for Hyderabad, and something to ponder for curators all over India.