South Africa v India, 2nd Test, Durban, 2nd day December 27, 2010

Harbhajan says the pitch has runs in it

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Harbhajan Singh, the India offspinner, said he enjoyed the bounce that he got out of the Kingsmead pitch but it also took precise bowling in fast-scoring conditions to succeed as a bowler. He returned 4 for 10 in 7.2 overs, his seventh-best figures outside India.

"There is extra bounce, but you still need to be very sure of your length," Harbhajan said. "Anything slightly short or slightly full can go for runs, at least for a spinner. Fast bowlers need to make the batsmen come forward. That really brings them into the game. But spinners can go for runs because the boundaries are small, and with the good bounce batsmen can connect well."

The major contribution from Harbhajan was Hashim Amla's wicket. Along with VVS Laxman, Amla has looked the most comfortable batsman in this low-scoring game, and Harbhajan said, even though eventually 18 wickets fell on the second day, things were looking hard for the bowlers when Amla was at the wicket. "There's nothing wrong with the wicket, it's still a good one. If you bowl in the right areas, there is a little bit of extra bounce but no lateral movement. The bowlers have a chance to get wickets, but the way Hashim was going, batting was looking simple. It's the kind of wicket where if a batsman gets in, he needs to make full use of it. I don't know how 18 wickets fell in a day on this wicket."

Harbhajan's second wicket was special for a couple of reasons: it got Rahul Dravid his 200th Test catch, and his 50th off Harbhajan's bowling. "He took a brilliant catch but it would have been nice to see him still batting at stumps, but unfortunately he's not there."

India did have a disappointing spell where they lost four quick wickets after bowling South Africa out for 131, one of whom was Dravid, but to their relief VVS Laxman and Cheteshwar Pujara batted out close to the last one-and-a-half hours, and Harbhajan said those two would be crucial in setting South Africa a competitive target. "There's still a lot of cricket left. We don't want to be complacent. We want to bat well tomorrow. Hopefully Laxman and Pujara can bat a long time and get a lot of runs on the board, and then we'll take it from there. We need to make sure we score more than 300 to give ourselves a good chance."

Harbhajan was pleased with how Pujara batted, playing only his second Test. "He showed great character to stick it out and let us know he wants to be a player who can be counted on. He practises very hard, and is a gutsy player; he's not worried about the bounce or the pace or anything. I hope he can convert all the domestic runs he's scored into international success."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on December 28, 2010, 15:02 GMT

    @charan200..i am not saying sachin is selfish..and i am not even saying that he plays for records...but he just cant take pressure.... as laxman does.....he isnt invincible.....please dont take it seriously..bcoz i am also a huge fan of sachin....but sachin is sachin and laxman is laxman.......u have to accept the fact that he cant play under pressure....only laxman does...

  • cricology on December 28, 2010, 14:52 GMT

    @anranga 1...who ever you are less borthered...u may even be correct that India may loose the series 3-0...but believe it Indians are getting the worst conditions to play...they loose toss (bad luck) and play on damp pitches...SA comes out to bat and sun dries the pitch...2nd test India again looses toss and bats on green top...and when same SA batted they too struggled and were 131 all out...some luck and story would have been different...

    so comment pargmatically and not shoot in dark !!!

  • ste13 on December 28, 2010, 14:32 GMT

    India should have made slightly better in the 2nd innings, esp. with Sehwag trying to be more patient. But this is a true contest and indeed there is very little separating these two top sides, with India bowling not really behind much-hyped SA. I cannot imaging India losing this series 3-0, but another stiff test for them will come in 2011 with tour of much improved England.

  • JPB334 on December 28, 2010, 14:23 GMT

    What would H.Singh know about runs?

  • sri1ram on December 28, 2010, 13:25 GMT

    Dream on anranga1, dream on. First time a Number.1 team will get white-washed 3-0? Right now, RSA needs 220 runs to win with 3 wickets down - Indians will take this to one all and hope for a win the next game. Game on now!

  • anranga1 on December 28, 2010, 12:50 GMT

    I think India will loose this match & the series 3-0. Probably the first time a No. 1 team would have been whitewashed

  • kr_kinshuk on December 28, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    india's top order missed the bus yesterday.... with the pitch having eased out 300 doesn't seem a very tough target unless south africa make errors.....

  • kasyapm on December 28, 2010, 11:30 GMT

    Some of the comments are really amusing. No way one can decide a batsman's calibre with his performance in a match, leave alone debating on whether SRT/RD can bat in such conditions (Time and again they have proved that they have the technique and temperament to play in testing conditions). Getting out doesn't necessarily mean that batsman is unable to figure out playing at the wicket. Pujara, for example, looked like having the technique to sustain in such conditions. Raina, on the other hand, looked like throwing his wicket sooner or later. But then, you can hang around if you have some temperament (and some luck!). Harbhajan meant that the pitch is not as bad as the scorecard suggests and wishes to get more. Thats it! an analysis of the pitch from a bowler who did really well on that wicket. Why are we dissecting his comments and throwing mud on batsmen from either sides...chill guys!

  • dummy4fb on December 28, 2010, 10:28 GMT

    Over-hyped South African battin looked like a minnows... Wonder why they fight for number one spot.. They cant play on bouncy track and turning tracks either.. Chokers.. Even if the lead is 200, they would make a mess of it and ended up close to 170....

  • indianzen on December 28, 2010, 9:10 GMT

    2nd Innings forecast - Completely depends on Amla and Kallis. If they stand, Sa win else SA loose. period.

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