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November 19, 2010
Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha have struggled to pick up wickets over the last year, and have only managed 13 wickets between them in the first two Tests against New Zealand, but MS Dhoni has said he is not too concerned with their bowling form.
"There is always a bit of pressure on him [Harbhajan] since Anil [Kumble] bhai retired. He has always to deal with the fact that he is the main spinner and is always supposed to take three or four wickets, if not five wickets, in every innings he plays. He has been part of the side 10 years now.
"He is been bowling well, he hasn't been lucky because quite a few catches have gone down. The important thing is he is bowling well; you can't always get wickets. As long as you are bowling at right pace and line, at some point of time you will start taking wickets. If he continues to bowl the way he is, he will get wickets."
Harbhajan found some support from the opposition camp as well. "I have stated on a number of occasions that he is one of the guys that I really admire watching in world cricket," Vettori said. "I think he is a fantastic spinner. He probably hasn't got the results he would have wanted this series, but we are always very mindful of him because he has such a vast repertoire and he is a very good bowler, and he has proven himself for a number of years. So there is no way we will underestimate him."
In the ongoing series against New Zealand, Harbhajan has taken six wickets, including two tailenders, at an average of 50.83, and averages 41.19 from 11 games over the last 12 months. Ojha has taken seven wickets at 46.42 in the same series, and averages 42.51 from 10 Test matches over his career.
Dhoni also said that Ojha's job is to be economical and allow the other bowlers to attack. Ojha's career economy rate is 2.84, and he has rarely operated, or been used, as a strike bowler. Often, he has gone over the stumps and bowled restrictive lines. "His role is to contain the batsmen," Dhoni said. "The three other bowlers are our attacking bowlers, which means they will give a bit of runs. Ojha contains runs which means he will end up taking two or three wickets. He allows the other bowlers to bowl with attacking fields and is doing his job really well."
The Test pitches in Ahmedabad and Hyderabad were flat and Dhoni has already voiced his displeasure with them. He hoped that the track in Nagpur will offer a bit more for the spinners. "The pitch looks a bit dry but there is a bit of grass. We will have wait and see. I am hoping there will be turn and bounce. India is known more for its turning tracks but I haven't seen such tracks in the past few Tests."
Dhoni ruled out the possibility of playing five bowlers. "That's out of the picture. You might get some reverse swing here [Nagpur] but the conditions are not enough to play three seamers. We will go in with two seamers and two spinners. Suresh Raina will be the part-timer, and maybe Sachin [Tendulkar] now and then. We are protecting [Virender] Sehwag before the World Cup as he has some shoulder niggles. That will be our strategy."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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