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Harbhajan hits out at lifeless SSC pitch

Cricinfo staff

August 6, 2010

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Harbhajan Singh warms up ahead of a practice session, Galle, July 17, 2010
Despite not being fully fit, Harbhajan Singh played the first two Tests since India's bowling attack was severely depleted © Associated Press
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Harbhajan Singh has hit out at the benign nature of pitch laid out for the second Test between India and Sri Lanka at the SSC. Bowlers from both sides struggled to make an impression during the Test in which several batting records were broken. Harbhajan told Hindustan Times that such lifeless pitches brought nothing to Test cricket, "not even spectators".

"You just can't have one-sided contests where the batsmen dominate," he said. "The seamers run in and bowl their hearts out and get nothing out of it. There should be some purchase on the first two days. Later on, if the spinners bowl well, they should get bounce, if not turn.

"People say Test cricket is dying. It is because of such one-sided contests. If you look at series in Australia and England, they get a lot of results because they produce good wickets, wickets that are true. That's the way it should be everywhere."

There has been a glut of India-Sri Lanka encounters recently, with the sides clashing in nine Tests, 26 ODIs and four Twenty20s since July 2008. Harbhajan said he did not mind playing anyone, but hinted that players from both camps were bored of the frequent fixtures between the sides.

"I think in the last eight months, we have played a lot of cricket against Sri Lanka. Obviously, the batsmen get used to your bowling and the bowlers know where they're going to play them. But I can't do much about it. I love playing cricket, so that's the way it goes. Who ever you play against, I don't mind. But yes, even the Sri Lankan players feel the same. We have played each other almost every second month in the last eight months.

Harbhajan struggled for form and fitness in the first Two Tests before returning home, missing the final Test and the upcoming ODI series. He defended the team management's decision to play him despite being half-fit, in the absence of senior seam bowlers Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth. "The day I reached Sri Lanka, I got swine flu, but recovered in time for the first Test. While bowling in the second Test, I suffered a side strain but carried on playing. The other three bowlers haven't played much Test cricket, so I had to take on the responsibility and give it the best shot.

"Then, I was running with Paddy (Upton, the mental conditioning coach) on the Galle Face road when I felt a calf strain. From there on, I have been struggling to walk. This is why I couldn't play the third Test," he said.

Harbhajan hopes to recover in time for the Champions League T20 in September, where, fitness permitting, he will represent Mumbai Indians. "That's the only tournament we have. Before that, there is the Corporate Trophy. I would like to test myself there myself there before I go to South Africa. But it shouldn't really be a problem because the physio told me that it would take two weeks to heal. Then, I'll have to do a lot of strengthening work for the calf. I am hoping everything goes well and I will be back to bowling and running after two weeks."

Harbhajan had a forgettable time in the first two Tests, conceding 280 runs for his two wickets as India slipped down 0-1 in the series. He faced widespread criticism for his inability to spearhead the young attack, with Bishan Singh Bedi terming Virender Sehwag the best offspinner in India in a veiled insult. Harbhajan however refused to retaliate.

"That's his opinion and it doesn't matter. I have heard him say a lot of things. Some people are like that; you can't change. All I can say is that my parents have taught me to respect elders," Harbhajan said.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by MENDIS_Forever on (August 9, 2010, 7:59 GMT)

hoo.BHAJJI. you are fading away from international cricket.Do you remeber how indians treat to our murali and mendis,when we came to india.So itis your turn now.suffer.. last but not least,dont even think of the world record 801! you will not pass kumble !!!

Posted by shenoyragh on (August 8, 2010, 9:56 GMT)

Ha ha ha... What about Galle??? Was that a flat track!? If Harbhajan's answer is yes, then Harbhajan should retire... This what he knows to do- Slam the pitch curators.. For starters, he needs to do the basics right.. Flight the ball, get the batsman to drive, reduce short balls.. If does nt do this, he can only blame the pitch.. Sehwag has a better tajectory.. Its a shame on Intl. cricket that we r only left with bowlers like harbhajan.. U cannot expect the pitches to deteriorate on the 4th and 5th days of the test match as it does in India.. Stop being a Cry baby and start to perform..!

Posted by AvidCricFan on (August 8, 2010, 2:32 GMT)

Bhajji needs to learn from Murali. The difference between him and Murali was like day and night. Bhajji is only good under the most favorable spin conditions. This is not a sign of greatness.

Posted by Lahori_Munde on (August 8, 2010, 1:18 GMT)

Harbhajan is absolutely right. This is not about how the pitches are in India or Pakistan or wherever. Such dead pitches should be banned wherever it may be..

Posted by   on (August 7, 2010, 23:43 GMT)

I find the comments that attack Harbhajan here hilarious. He's commenting on the nature of benign pitches overall. He is not singling out Sri Lanka. This pitch problem is something that seems to plague the subcontinent. The Asian block needs to get together and do something about it. The pitch for the last test match in the P. Sara stadium was excellent. I hope more players speak out openly against 'dead' pitches and the administrators take notice! As for Harbhajan's form... well he knows he needs to improve or else someone is bound to take his place sooner or later.

Posted by DinakarAppaji on (August 7, 2010, 17:34 GMT)

@Rahil Khan - How many matches in India were dead draws over last few years unlike what we see in Srilanka too often?

Posted by   on (August 7, 2010, 17:18 GMT)

Please dont make it a India-Srilanka issue here.It is for your kind information that Harbhajan has rightly slammed Dhiraj Prasanna(curator of Motera,Ahmedabd) for that more lifeless pitch in 2009 series.Perhaps not many were aware of that.The pitch at Galle was not as good as that of P Sara.Remember Murali struggled to get to the 800th wicket for 20 odd overs.India lost the 1st match because of its poor batting.SSC was no bad compare to the Oval-Lords during 2006-2007.But here I had to commend the Srilanka Cricket for having big outfields in all of these stadiums which gives true value for the shots.And Pakistanis should shut off here as we know how were the pitches in Lahore,Faisalabad in 2006 and again Karachi,Lahore in 2009(Terrorist attack series) ?they dont produce results unless they have grass on them.

Posted by zxaar on (August 7, 2010, 15:19 GMT)

i just wish to ask curator of second test pitch, what he has to say about this attach who could not bowl. Third test has surely made him look like fool at international level.

Posted by   on (August 7, 2010, 14:33 GMT)

How does he justify his poor performance in Galle then? Yes, it was a poor pitch; but Harbhajan gets no sympathy for his poor form of late. He is struggling anyway; and surely wouldn't have made much of a difference had he played at P. Sara.

I think it is time for Harbhajan to play some domestic cricket and get his flight and rhythm back, rather than worrying about the Champions League.

Posted by Rajesh. on (August 7, 2010, 13:31 GMT)

Harbhajan Singh should learn to bowl on all types of wickets rather than finding excuses.......... He has been down the past few years and the frustration is evident in his comments. Anyway, he has been one over-rated bowler all through his career. Except for that 2001 series against Australia I've not seen him bowl like a match-winner......

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