India v Pakistan, 1st Test, Delhi, 3rd day November 24, 2007

Harbhajan rues dropped chance against Misbah

Harbhajan Singh made an impact taking the wickets of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Yousuf © AFP

Harbhajan Singh said the dropped chance off Misbah-ul-Haq was "crucial", as India had hoped to bowl Pakistan out by the end of the day. He also said he felt the side possessed the batting to overhaul "any target" despite history suggesting otherwise.

"If we had taken Misbah's catch [he was dropped by Jaffer when on one] , maybe we have could taken around eight or nine wicket or even got them all out," Harbhajan said at the end of the day, during which he finally made an impression on this Test. "It was a very crucial catch. But it is no use pondering on it... Sometimes catches do get dropped and sometimes brilliant ones are also taken. No one does it deliberately. Instead we must move forward and focus on the fourth day's play."

Never have India chased more than 190 at this venue - only West Indies, in 1987, and England, in 1972, have managed more than 200 - but Harbhajan sounded optimistic. "We still have a good chance," he said. "The wicket is playing much better now. As you might have seen when their opening partnership was taking place, we were wondering whether it was the same wicket. It seems like getting better and better.

"Yesterday, you might have seen some balls keeping low, but today it was coming on to the bat nicely. Hopefully it remains as it was today or get better and I think we should be able to chase anything. We are very happy to get five wickets in the last session. Anil Kumble bowled well and once again brought us back into the match with those two crucial wickets."

Harbhajan had gone unnoticed in Pakistan's first innings and took some time to make a mark today. Did he feel he was under-bowled? "I can only come to bowl if I am asked to do so [by the captain]," he said. "We always try to bowl well in partnerships, so sometimes you need to work out which combination works well. So I think whatever he [Anil Kumble] has done, he has got it right. But yes, which bowler would not like to bowl a long spell."

It was only in the third session that he transformed into a threat, dismissing Mohammad Yousuf with a delightful offbreak first up. "When I bowled from that end, it was my first long spell in the match and luckily I got a wicket with my first delivery. And when you take a wicket off the very first delivery, it gives you confidence and you bowl positively. I knew it was just a matter of time before I get to bowl. And I was just thinking that whenever I get to bowl, I will do well and I am glad I was able to take crucial wickets."

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo