Harbhajan rues lack of support from seamers
On a day that Harbhajan Singh registered his best bowling figures outside India, 7 for 120, he was a subdued man. His early burst - at one point his figures read 4 for 10 - had put India in a commanding position, but a combination of brilliance from Jacques Kallis and some uninspiring stuff from India in the field took South Africa from 130 for 6 to 341. Harbhajan had the look of a man who knew that India's best chance of winning a series in South Africa had now turned into a situation from where they will need to play really well to even come out with a 1-1 result.
"Happy I got wickets, but not happy that Kallis scored a hundred," Harbhajan said. "At one stage we were in a very good position, but from there onwards they batted well but we could still have created more chances by bowling well. We didn't bowl as well as we should have."
Harbhajan rued the lack of support from the seamers. "I don't know what the plan was," he said. "I think we could have created more chances throughout the day with our fast bowling. We didn't bowl the right lengths. That's what I felt. I am not being critical, just giving my honest opinion. We could have created more chances with our seamers. If you see, their [South Africa's] seamers have taken most of their wickets. There was still a lot of bounce and carry in the wicket, but I think we didn't bowl as well as we could have."
Harbhajan - in the first half of his effort - used the rough outside the right-hand batsman's off stump pretty well. The patch was helpful, but it was wide outside off, so it took some effort to exploit it. "There is rough, and I think I have hit a lot of balls in the rough," Harbhajan said. "When you are new as a batsman, it is difficult to play from there, but once you are in then you get the idea of how much it is bouncing and spinning. Otherwise from the middle, nothing much is happening for the spinner, but there is definitely rough and if any offspinner bowls there, he will get a lot of spin and bounce."
Harbhajan, though, didn't have any answers for Kallis' innings. He said he hasn't seen many batsmen respond so well to a tough situation, connecting with the reverse-sweep so often and so cleanly. He called Kallis the best player in the world after Sachin Tendulkar. However, the way Kallis batted gave him and India hope.
"The wicket is still very good," he said "If you get in, there are a lot of runs. It has become better to bat on. New ball will be crucial. We have all seen how well Dale Steyn has bowled. We will have to bat well up front, then let's see how to go about it."
Going into the last day of what has been a highly competitive series, India need 340 runs with all their wickets in hand. "Our approach - to be honest - will be to see off the first hour," Harbhajan said. "If we play the new ball well…of course we need some fireworks from Virender Sehwag, if he gets going, anything is chaseable. This is a fast ground where a lot of runs can be scored. I hope Viru clicks tomorrow and gives us a good start. Hundred for no loss will be a good start, I hope we get that. New ball will be crucial."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo