India news October 15, 2010

'We can be top for long time' - Harbhajan

ESPNcricinfo staff

Harbhajan Singh has said that India have the potential to be No. 1 in Tests for an extended spell. India have been top of the table for 11 months, and have stretched their lead to 11 points over South Africa after the 2-0 series victory over Australia. Of their previous 10 Test series India have lost only one - in 2008, when Ajantha Mendis inspired Sri Lanka to a 2-1 win.

"We have the talent to be at the top of the table for a long time," Harbhajan told "We have proven that in the last nine months and we were at the top because we have won lots of games both in India and abroad. If we can achieve that then why can't we be there for a long time?"

The Australia series was one in which Harbhajan managed to hit form after some lacklustre performances against Sri Lanka in July, where he wasn't fully fit. "It has been a very satisfying series. We won 2-0. I took 11 wickets and am quite satisfied with my own performance, but it could have been better."

One of the disappointments in the series for Harbhajan was his batting in the tight Mohali Test, where he lasted only three deliveries in two innings. "I was really upset. I have been working hard on my batting," he said. "In the second innings, I got out to the second ball. I was really angry with myself and that was the time we needed a partnership to win that game. I didn't remove my pads and was sitting with my pads on until India got the victory."

Harbhajan, who struggled with swine flu in Sri Lanka, said he had trouble with his shin in the lead-up to the Australia series. "I developed pain in my shin [while preparing for the Australia series]," he said. "My physio told me, 'if you keep on playing with it, you might develop stress fracture'. Shin is where you can't even have injection, but still I had to play, so I went ahead with pain killers and am really happy that I survived the two games."

India's next Test assignment is a home series against New Zealand after which lies a tough tour of South Africa, a country where they are yet to win a series. "South Africa in South Africa will be very challenging. The wickets and conditions are different there," Harbhajan said. "The boys are pretty confident; we have got the batting line-up to perform there, and a bowling outfit to take wickets there. We just need to have faith in our ability. If we can go on to win the series in South Africa, that will be a big achievement."