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Bhajji's Googly: I am still the best spinner in India, says Harbhajan

Ignored spinner refers to carrom ball, a weapon associated with Ashwin in his criticism of Indian spin

New Delhi: After 15 years of international cricket, Harbhajan Singh is still enjoying playing in the domestic circuit. And the 33-year-old rates himself the best off-spinner in the country and says it is a matter of time before he is recalled to the national side.

You ask him about the motivation for toiling on nondescript grounds, the veteran of 694 international wickets snaps back.


Harbhajan Singh

“What could be a bigger motivation than striving here to get back into the Indian team,” Harbhajan, who is relishing captaining Punjab, said on the sidelines of the North Zone Vijay Hazare Trophy at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

“Every game is an opportunity for a guy like me, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir or anyone who is eying a comeback,” says Harbhajan, who last played for India in March 2013. It would be tough for selectors to keep a player of his stature out for so long, especially at a time when the Indian bowlers are finding it tough at home and overseas and number one offie Ravichandran Ashwin getting criticised often for trying too many variations without getting desired results.

Harbhajan’s former captain Sourav Ganguly remains his strong backer and feels the feisty cricketer deserves to be in the national team. The country’s most successful off-spinner concurs with his mentor.

Still a lot to offer
“I would not talk about anyone who is playing for India, but I do feel I am still the best in the business. I still have a lot to offer and see myself playing at the highest level for at least three to four years,” says a fit- looking Harbhajan.

Playing local competitions has also given him an opportunity to gauge the spin talent pool across India.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t come up with a rosy picture.

“It feels bad to say that I have not seen a spinner who can run through a side,” he says remembering his hey days bowling in tandem with the great, Anil Kumble. He goes on to explain the tricky issue facing Indian cricket.

“Being a spinner means you should be able to spin the ball. I understand you are playing on flat tracks most of the time, but you got to have a stock ball. A ball that you can bowl 90 percent of the time even with your eyes shut.

“I am all for variations, but at max you have two of them. And there are bowlers who don’t have a doosra or a carrom ball, they get variation by using the crease, change their pace or under cut.

Focus on basics
“You put batsmen in doubt by spinning the normal delivery. If you are doing that consistently and the odd ball is going the other way, it automatically plays on the batsman’s mind.

“Shane Warne is a perfect example of that. He did not have a googly but his basics were so strong that he took most of his wickets with leg-spin. And Murali’s doosra was dangerous because his off-spin turned a lot. That is why the youngsters need to focus on basics,” he says.

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