India v New Zealand, 3rd Test, Nagpur November 19, 2010

Bowling woes don't worry Dhoni

ESPNcricinfo staff

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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • diren on November 26, 2010, 10:55 GMT

    Soon when he arrives in SA he is going to be very worried lol....India will struggle to stop the SA jugernaut

  • Varun on November 20, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    India will definitly miss Zaheer a lot. And Sreesanth is the only other bowler who gives a feeling that a wicket could be there in his over although he concedes lotta runs. He should try to avoid trying lotta experiments with his bowling, needs to be consistent in his line and length. Ojha is tooo negative in his tactics, Selectors should bring back Murali kartik in to the team as he is the best available Left arm spinner in the country. I guess harbhajan will get his form back if he is given a spell with lotta protections nearer to the batsman, must try attacking with him with most of the fieldsrs inside the incircle.If he gets a wicket early , it will be a treat to watch his bowling from then on.

  • Dummy4 on November 20, 2010, 5:05 GMT

    Dhoni, wake up....Honey Moon in GOA over...we are a middle of NZ test series and SA next. The best spinner in the country is now playing for TN, get him on board and so some aggression...Taking bold decisions and showing killer instinct are needed for captain of No.1 team...

    BCCI...please give a break to Dhoni...He can think more productively when he is away from action.

    Please....please...drop Bhajji.

  • Dummy4 on November 20, 2010, 4:29 GMT

    wats up kriss srikanth doing god sometimes he has to be consistant buddy mithum was gud ok wat m patel doing to gud and r p this there ,harabajan often try to bowl well cant take wickets , batting has to improve gambir has to play well to retian the place dravid is too slow he can be wall still try with puarja ok sewhag sashin and laxman gud kept is up dhoni has failed regularly he has to improve test record yuraj will handy with this bowl in is hand i hope india will win

  • Subba on November 20, 2010, 4:04 GMT

    BCCI is a rich Board. A bunch of pace bowlers have to be groomed who can bowl at 145k and above. It is just that upcoming bowlers conserve themselves for shorter formats and are reluctant to go flat out in long Test matches which are played in fewer numbers. Confidence has to be inspired in rising pacemen that their financial rewards will be secure enough, even if they are on the bench for certain intervening periods. 4 strapping bowlers of high pace, used @ two each and rotated, should propel this Indian team further and No. 1 tag could be India's for a long time. The way things are going, genuine quick bowling is unattractive because of the injury risk and the fear of missing out lucrative T20 matches in the process. I can see the same thing happening in Australia too. Rising lot is T20 oriented and they are producing big hitting batsmen but no serious pace bowlers anymore.

  • pvs on November 20, 2010, 3:52 GMT

    dhoni has fogotten his batting skills.bajji has forgotten his bowling skills.the remaining have forgotten their fielding skills.if nagpur pitch is made in favour of spinners, better be wary of vettori who still remembers his skills.

  • surya on November 20, 2010, 2:44 GMT

    why sreesanth is in the team he gives 150 runs and then takes a wicket that too the batsman throws his wicket and rarely bowls good. No 1 team will be tested when sehwag and sachin were rested. dhoni rides on sehwags pace. if we want a fast bowler then a Robot is needed and that too should be benched for years. and 3rd test is the comedy of all whr ishanth and sreeshanth shares the new ball and no other test playing team has this much worst combination.

  • Francis on November 20, 2010, 0:09 GMT

    You can only make things better if you first admit that there is a problem. A world #1 Test team would have the most feared bowling attack in cricket. The Indian bowlers right now are a joke. India have already fallen off their pedestal. The dive down the rankings is now a formality. It was good while it lasted.

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2010, 22:55 GMT

    inda needs to improve bowling attack for test...tats a certainty..usually harbhajan excels in test cricket but it looks like he is practicing batting more than practicing his bowling.I think this test might be the one where either harbhajan takes alotta wickets or zaheer khan the veterans will shine in this!!!!! dont wurry guys!!!!!:)

  • Dummy4 on November 19, 2010, 20:04 GMT

    Bowling has always been a worrying factor to indian team & to add to woes Indian fielding standard has also not been of poor....dont know why we cant even find a one bowler in India wo can touch above 150 km bowling speed....with these slow & batsmen friendly pitches I dont know how we can take 20 wickets.....aur spin department is such that cant spin the ball on Indian 5th day track....yet Dhoni is satisfied with the current bowling me this satisfaction word has always been end of any growth.....why not provide some chance to piyush chawla & amit mishra in place of harbhajan or pragnay ojha......!!!!!!!

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