India v England, 3rd Test, Mumbai, 4th day

'It's still a good wicket to bat on' - Harbhajan

S Rajesh in Mumbai

March 21, 2006

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Harbhajan Singh lets out a roar after a satisfying day with the ball © Getty Images

Despite losing a wicket in the eight overs of batting which were possible today, India still have a good chance of saving or winning the game tomorrow, reckoned Harbhajan Singh. Along with Anil Kumble, Harbhajan turned in a fine performance with the ball, taking 2 for 39, to restrict England to 191, but he believed the pitch was still good enough for India to make a serious fist of the target.

"The first session will be very crucial," Harbhajan said in the post-match chat with the media. "If we survive the first session without losing too many wickets, then we can go for the chase. The pitch is not doing much and there's good bounce, so the batsmen can play their shots."

"Normally the wicket in Mumbai tends to spin a lot but here it's not doing that much. It has bounce, so if you're good enough you'll score runs, if you're good enough you'll take wickets. It's still a very good wicket to bat on."

If the pitch was such a good one, how did he explain Andrew Flintoff's uncharacteristic knock of 50 runs from 145 balls? "Flintoff played according to the situation. He played defensively because they had lost five wickets. But at the same time when he was playing big shots, he was picking them inevitably. It's a good wicket - there's not much happening," he reiterated once again, just in case the comment had been missed earlier.

Harbhajan also put his vote of confidence on the Indian batsmen, who have generally struggled throughout this season. "We have quality batsmen who can play defensively and can also attack if needed." India are playing with only five specialist batsmen, and received a further jolt when Virender Sehwag didn't take the field on the fourth day due to a back spasm. However, Harbhajan confirmed that Sehwag would bat tomorrow if required, at No.7.

About his own bowling and the lack of wickets - before this Test he had three from four matches - Harbhajan shrugged it off as a bad phase which would change soon. "Sometimes you bowl well and don't get wickets, sometimes you don't bowl well and get five-six wickets. So it's all part of the game. I'm happy that I'm bowling well, in the right areas, and really enjoying it. Hopefully my luck will turn around and the number [wickets column in bowling analysis] will change soon."

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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