India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hyderabad November 18, 2010

Harbhajan slams Indian flatbeds

ESPNcricinfo staff

Harbhajan Singh has criticised the Hyderabad pitch that was prepared for India's second Test against New Zealand, which offered no help to the fast bowlers or spinners and produced a draw, saying India is developing a reputation for batsmen-friendly pitches.

"These days foreign teams come to India secure in the knowledge that it is the best place to get runs," he told the Times of India. "Gary Kirsten told me that when he came to play a Test series in India, the best place to bat was as an opener, because once the spinners came on, batting became difficult. But now, every wicket has been re-laid and the black soil has made the wickets pretty firm. It just doesn't turn and the wicket plays well even on the final day.''

He was critical of the curator, saying he "deserves to be given the contract to build national highways''.

Harbhajan has had more success with the bat than the ball in the series, having scored back-to-back centuries but taken just six wickets in the first two Tests. In the Hyderabad Test, he and Sreesanth put together a 105-run partnership for the last wicket in India's first innings, which Harbhajan thinks signifies how flat the wicket was. "Even our No. 11 was playing like Sachin Tendulkar," he said. "So we should give all the credit to the groundsmen.''

India's bowlers have failed to take 20 wickets in each of the two Test matches and India captain MS Dhoni had blamed the pitches for failing to produce results and said teams would "have to play 10 days" to get a result.

Harbhajan said flat pitches had become a recurring problem in Test series in India. "I can't remember the last time I bowled on a turning track where the ball spun and bounced," he said. "I think Kanpur was the last and we got the desired result against South Africa in 2008. I don't suggest we play on bad wickets. But we should play to our strength, and our strength, over the years, has been spin bowling."

India go into the deciding Test at Nagpur, on Saturday, without Zaheer Khan, which will increase the pressure on Harbhajan to spearhead the attack. Harbhajan's centuries have elicited suggestions he is turning into an allrounder, but his bowling has received criticism from some quarters. "I think I have bowled well in the last two Tests," he said. "But the way our critics think, you bowl well only when you take wickets. When I took four wickets in the first innings in Hyderabad, I bowled well. But on the final day, when I took just one wicket, I was in the line of fire. Some days, I can bowl a few full tosses and get five wickets. Figures do not always do justice.''

India came into the series ranked No.1 in the ICC Test rankings, with New Zealand at No.8, and having recently beaten Australia 2-0 at home, anything less than a win in Nagpur would be considered a disappointment. But Harbhajan still has his hopes up. "Hopefully, Sachin Tendulkar will get his 50th Test hundred, I'll get another hundred and pick up 7 to 8 wickets and India will win.''

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2010, 13:40 GMT

    @SFGoldenGate sorry for the mistake..Steyn took 7 wickets in Nagpur not Ahmedabad as i wrote.My friend sonjjay is spot on here!Go back to 2006 when India toured SA.Sreesanth tore apart SA line up bowling 'em out for 84 runs in Jo'burg.So the battle is not only between our batsmen nd SA bowlers. The reverse is also going to be interesting.Indian bowlers toils hard on batting friendly pitches so they are very good whenever they get good support from the pitch.Zaheer and Bhajji are bowlers of stupendous caliber along with Sreesanth and Ishant who are rising stars of Indian cricket. Another thing, please have respect for the person who has scored more than 30000 runs in international cricket and for his country. We have been playing cricket since 1936 and have a rich history producing a number of great cricketers. Have respect for 'em as Indians have great respect for their SA counterparts.Take it easy and enjoy the coming showdown.May the best team win!

  • Sanjay on November 25, 2010, 12:11 GMT

    @SFgoldengate as a matter of fact i remember the Ahmedabad test match ur talking about. It was a green pitch and that is what took the batsmen by surprise but it was good bowling and these sort of collapse's happen. remember 2006 Jburg SA was bowled out for a similar total and nagpur 2010 we had 3 debutants again and new stadium in Nagpur that is Jamtha is the hardest Indian wicket you will get. You should have seen peter siddle bowl here in an odi match,having said that i will be the first one to admit SA have challenged India the most on our home soil in the last 15 yrs or so.

  • Dummy4 on November 25, 2010, 9:35 GMT

    @SFGoldenGate my friend,you may be suffering from selective amnesia. Yes Steyn bowled a spell of 7/51 in Ahmedabad but he took just 1(!) wicket and gave 147 runs in next test in Kolkata.It wasn't a batting pitch either as SA scored 296 and 290 where India slammed 4 centuries amassing 643.Also the so-called destruction includes inexperienced WP SAHA,M VIJAY and BADRI(no Dravid and Laxman). You said India don't win outside India.on the contrary,India won in New Zealand( where pitches are more grassy and bouncy than SA.Harbhajan has taken 378 wickets in tests so he doesn't need ur certificate to be a self-acclaimed bowler.and I don't understand the fuss over Indian flatbeds.Am I suppose to understand that other batsmen can't play on flat pitches?!!! Ridiculous.

  • diren on November 25, 2010, 6:03 GMT

    SFGoldenGate thanks for agreeing with me. You are spot on bro!!!!

  • Mehedi on November 24, 2010, 16:41 GMT

    I forgot to mention another match, SA vs IND at Ahmedabad in 2008. India were all out for 76 in their own soil by Steyn, Ntini and Morkel. Every famous Indian batsmen were their except Sachin. It was not a bowling pitch either, SA scored 494 with AB Deviliers scoring 217* and eventually SA won by Innings and 90 runs. In 2nd innings IND was little better, but one good session for Steyn is enough. Acorecard here, . And it is no fluke. Steyn again destroyed India in India soil at Nagpur in Feb 2010. From 192 for 3 IND were all out for 233 (Steyn 7/51) and SA piled up 558 (Amla 253*, Kallis 173). and SA won by Innings and 6 runs. Scorecard here On both occasion SA batting proved that batting is ok. On both occasion IND also batted well in 2nd inns. But as I say, one session can change everything. Zaheer, Ishant, Sreshant -- all decent bowler but nothing like Steyn.

  • Mehedi on November 24, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    @sonjjay, You are showing Sachin's ODI double hundred against SA. In my earlier post I mentioned what is the difference between ODI and test. Now, can you show me Sachin any double hundred in SA ? BIG NO !! ok, did Sachin score 200 against SA in India , again BIG NO. Sachin did not score 200s in his SA in his entire 21 years career for test but scored a solitary 200 against SA, which only proves that two formats are a lot different. I am not in any way discriminating Sachin. I am saying that, test cricket is so tough that even Sachin could not achieve many feat. In ODI, Sachin is just GOD. Salute to this great player.

  • Mehedi on November 24, 2010, 15:05 GMT

    @sonjjay, first of all, ODI and Tests are different even on flatbeds. In tests the best bowlers does not have limitation of blowing only 10 overs. Fast bowlers can give more bouncers which prevents many batsmen to come on front foot even on flatbeds. Another thing, many batsmen are very weak against bouncer (I am not saying Sachin). One example is early days Steve Waugh. He was criticized heavily for his lack of skill to handle good bouncer but later he corrected the flaw. And remember, the bowlers have to have one good ball to dismiss anyone including Sachin. In ODIs, bowlers are restricted. Yes there are no side who conceded 200 to a batsmen, but hey there are many 180+ score in ODI which are no less. And 200 in ODI does not happen everyday. Maybe SA are also allowed have bad day, right? (on Indian soil LOL). In Nagpur, Sehwag and Sachin got century. Thank god, at least , now you can not say that pitch was unplayable for Indian batsmen. Steyn had one good day, you see what happened?

  • Mehedi on November 24, 2010, 14:51 GMT

    @swaroopjammula, Yes, Sachin has good average. But if you look further you will see that Ponting has similar average all over the world except India. Ponting fails miserably in India. In the same way Sachin can fail also. You mention Sachin's 169. That was a great innings but India lost that macth by 282 runs. Sachin helped avoid the follow on. Inida scores on that series are @ Durban SA(235,259), IND (100, 66) @Cape Town (529, 256) IND(359, 144) @ Johannesberg SA (321,228) IND(410,266). Sachin's contribution in that series, 15,4,169,9,35,9. From that you can say that Sachin had a rare good day. India score of 100, 66 and 144 shows how they collapsed when mattered. My point is Sachin's average is decent everywhere. You have so many 50+ average people so why so few overseas win as a nation? You are playing cricket from when, 1936 right? In my eyes the most solid Indian batsman is Sunil Gavaskar. At least he was tested against the best. He had 13 hundreds against mighty 70-80s W Indies

  • diren on November 24, 2010, 7:32 GMT

    swaroopjammula the indian batting line up is not the best in the world, on paper they all have good averages and tons of runs ( mostly scored on flat flat piches) but on current form the SA batting line up is the best.....Amla no1 and AB no2 according to ICC rankings....You throw in Kallis and Smith and thats a top class line up. oh and please dont compare Ishant , Zaheer , Sreesanth to Steyn and morkel lol.... Steyn and Morkel are in a class of their own

  • diren on November 24, 2010, 7:26 GMT

    Subhojit Nandy dont forget Steyn destroyed India in their own back yard ....imagine whats going to happen in SA.. India should be worried

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