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April 29, 2011
Harbhajan Singh on Ambati Rayudu: "He's got the capability to fill the shoes of Rahul Dravid or VVS Laxman."
Mumbai Indians batsman Ambati Rayudu could take a spot in India's Test middle order once the likes of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman move on, Harbhajan Singh has said. According to him, Rayudu, who joined Mumbai in 2010 after cancelling his contract with the Indian Cricket League, was key to the side's run to the final in the previous season.
"He has special talent. He got lost [in domestic cricket] in between and we didn't hear much about him, but he's been playing really well for Mumbai Indians. Last season he was one of the main players who got us into the final, and I can see him playing for India," Harbhajan said. "He's got the capability to fill the shoes of Rahul Dravid or VVS Laxman. That's what I think, in coming years you'll see him going a long way."
Harbhajan is looking forward to talking shop with Shane Warne when Mumbai play Rajasthan Royals on Friday. "It [the match] is an opportunity for youngsters like Rayudu and Rohit Sharma to face one of the world's best bowlers ever. Hopefully I'll get some time to talk to him about my bowling and about me going forward in international cricket."
Mumbai's fielding, which has received a lot of praise, is what won them the match against Chennai Super Kings on April 22, Harbhajan said. "Jonty Rhodes always pushes us to work really hard on our fielding. We all know that fielding is an area in which we can always improve. If you ask me, we won against Chennai because we fielded brilliantly and not because I took five wickets."
Harbhajan also said if spinners have been faring better in this IPL, it wasn't because of the pitches. "Pitches have been always slow in India. There have been bowlers like Praveen Kumar who've been getting wickets. You have to do different things in Twenty20, I feel you can't just bowl at 130 plus kph and get away with your four overs. You need some kind of swing or to bowl at 150 kph to survive this form.
"We [Mumbai] are doing well as a bowling unit. Even someone like Kieron Pollard, who is not purely a bowler, is capable of getting us three or four wickets on a good day. On a good day, anyone can win a game for us, that is what matters."
The environment in the Mumbai camp is a great one to be in, Harbhajan said. "Last season Zak [Zaheer Khan] was around, and Sachin [Tendulkar], Zak and I tried to makes ours a tight unit. That worked for us, and this year it is the same.
"Someone like T Suman, who has just come in [this season], we want him to feel like he's a part of the think tank. Whatever he feels, he can come and talk to us and give us his suggestions and feedback. We have a lot of confidence in each other, people talk about whatever they have on their mind, which is a great environment to be in."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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