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Harbhajan 'surprised' at being dropped

Harbhajan Singh did not have a happy outing Associated Press

Offspinner Harbhajan Singh has said he was "more surprised" than hurt after being dropped from India's squad for the first two ODIs against England. Harbhajan was left out after a disappointing injury-ridden performance on the recent tour of England. The selectors chose to give Punjab legspinner Rahul Sharma a chance along with Tamil Nadu offspinner R Ashwin.

"I wouldn't say I was hurt. I was more surprised," Harbhajan told PTI. "I wish the younger guys all the best. I am more than happy to share my experience with them like I was helped by Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly while I was coming up."

Harbhajan took only two wickets in 69.4 overs against England at an average of 143.50 and economy-rate of 4.11. He suffered a stomach injury during the second Test and was ruled out of the last two matches and the limited-overs series that followed. India lost the Test series 0-4 and the ODI series 0-3.

Harbhajan's bowling has been criticised of late, with his 17 wickets in 17 ODIs in 2011 coming at an average of 41.29. He has, however, conceded fewer than five runs an over in each of his previous seven ODI series.

Harbhajan said it was not always possible to take wickets in the shorter format with the emphasis being on stemming the run flow, which India's attack struggled to do.

"First of all you must decide what you expect from a bowler in limited-overs format. Do you expect him to take a five-for every time he bowls his 10 overs or do you want him to put the squeeze on and force the opposition to play into your hands. In a low-scoring match, you would expect him to take wickets. On a belter of a track, you want him to dry up the runs.

"In the Caribbean, I took 1 for 24 from 10 overs, besides scoring 41 in Antigua to clinch the one-day series. I must have done something right to have survived for 13 years. Who can be more concerned about my performance than me?"

Harbhajan, who is currently leading the India Green side in the domestic NKP Salve Challenger Trophy, said that he would focus on what the team wanted from him. "I can't keep adjusting every time somebody fancies writing about me. All I can say is that I am now completely fit and full of vigour. I am ready to put my best foot forward."