With 711 wickets in 3 formats of international cricket, Harbhajan Singh used to be the face of India’s bowling a few years back. The legendary offspinner from Punjab, who is called the Turbunator, is back at the realm of domestic cricket to meet his goal i.e. to make a comeback into the national side. While India is facing Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens, Kolkata in the first match of the three-match test series, Bhajji speaks to CricketSoccer.com from Amritsar.
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer (CS): Are you following the first test between India and Sri Lanka?
Harbhajan Singh (HS): Yeah, but can’t able to watch the full match as I am playing the Ranji Trophy match for Punjab against Bengal at Amritsar. During the match, I am watching the test on television in the dressing room whenever get the chance to sit for a while. At night, I am watching the highlights on television. I feel that the pacers got full support from the wicket in first two days only due to rain and an English like condition. Indian batsmen struggled as the ball was swinging from the very first moment and that too for the overcast condition. The toss also played a major role in the match. It is that kind of wicket where winning the toss may be very crucial. I would not be surprised if losing the toss proves to be fatal for India.
CS: Do you think playing on this kind of surfaces will help India in their preparation for the upcoming South Africa tour?
HS: No. I feel in South Africa, the ball doesn’t seam too much as we get to see at Eden Gardens during the ongoing test match. What makes the life of a batsman difficult in South Africa is the extra amount of bounce. The bounce is much more there than you get to play in India. That is the basic difference. I can’t say how much grassy the Eden Wicket is, but it seems that there is an extra amount of green this time at Kolkata and that is one of the major reason for the seam and swing the pacers are getting. The overcast condition is also aiding the fast bowling. But the condition in South Africa will be completely different and I don’t feel India can have a good preparation for the tour to South Africa by playing on green tops in India. There is a huge difference between the grassy wickets in the subcontinent and in South Africa. And I am not sure whether the Indian team get to play on bouncy tracks in the next two test matches at Nagpur and Delhi because, at both the venues, we use to get slow turner. Though the wicket will be fresh to some extent as it’s just the beginning of a new season, still I think the dry nature of the pitch will not change.
CS: Playing in South Africa, England and Australia has been considered as the greatest challenge for any teams in the world. Keeping that in mind, how are you seeing India’s chances in these three upcoming series?
HS: See, India is a good and balanced team. They have potential to do well in every nook and corner of the cricketing world. I personally feel this team led by Virat Kohli will do better than what we did. I wish them all the best and hope that they will fight it till the end of those series.
CS: India is playing Sri Lanka twice within just six months. Do you support the idea to play a team twice in one calendar year?
HS: Look, if India is playing Australia or England twice in a single calendar year, I have no worry. Because people would love to watch the rivalry between two top teams in the cricketing world. But if you play Sri Lanka or West Indies twice a year, yes, definitely the series may lose mass interest. India, at present, is the number one team in Test Cricket and they deserve to play with better opponents. I am not saying that Sri Lanka is a weak team, but obviously, they have lost the strength that they used to enjoy. India-Sri Lanka series once in two years is good. And there lies the significance of the Test Championship. I mean to say that there should be enough motivation for the teams in each and every bilateral series. It should not be turned into a one-sided affair.
CS: What will be your prediction regarding the ongoing India-Sri Lanka series?
HS: India should win all the three trophies, I mean the test, ODI and T-20 series quite comfortably. India could make it 3-0 in the test series if there were no interruption due to rain at Eden Gardens. I am not underestimating Sri Lanka, but this team lacks the bite that is needed to beat a team like India.
CS: Do you think that you can make a comeback to the Indian side?
HS: Yes of course. I am playing the IPL with much success. I have resumed playing domestic cricket for Punjab. I played the Ranji Trophy match against Bengal and felt good on the field. I am practising hard for the last 2 weeks. I am confident enough to deliver on the field, picking up wickets regularly. That’s the only key to make a comeback. My performance should speak for me.