With 711 international wickets across all the three formats of the game, Harbhajan Singh is one of the finest offspinners India have ever produced. In a recent chat with the CrickerSoccer.com, the star cricketer told that the upcoming India-England test series will be a nail-biting duel between two best teams of the world.
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer (CS): During the ongoing tour to England, India has a mixed experience so far, having won the T20 series and lost the ODI Trophy. What could be the result in the Test series?
Harbhajan Singh (HS): It’s very difficult to give a prediction when two top teams are facing each other. England will be playing on their home soil. On the other hand, India have a very balanced team, a perfect mixture of youth and experience. It will be a hard-fought series, I have no doubt about it. The team, which will dominate the first two days of each of the test matches could end up winning the series. Another thing I must mention, the result of the T20 or ODI series will not have any impact on the outcome of the test series because it’s a completely a different ball game. Both the teams will boast of players who were not the part of the limited-overs sides. England will have Alistair Cook, James Anderson and Stuart Broad. On the other hand, India will have Cheteshwar Pujara, R. Ashwin and some others. So it will be a fresh competition.
CS: How challenging could Anderson be this time too for the Indian batsmen?
HS: Anderson has a brilliant record against India. He has 80 odd (86) scalps in 20 plus (22, to be exact) test matches against India. Last time when we toured England in 2014, he was the man behind our 1-3 demolition in the test series. He took 25 wickets in 5 test matches. Anderson is a class bowler. I have seen very few bowlers who have so much control over their swing. Yes, of course, Anderson could be a factor. But having said that, Anderson is 35 and I’m not sure how fit he is to give his best in all 5 tests. It’s a huge series and remaining on the top of form and fitness will be a tough task for him also.
CS: What about India’s bowling attack?
HS: India have a variety. They have speed stars like Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami, who can trouble the batsman with the extra amount of speed. They have the experience of Ishant Sharma. Then they have a balanced spin bowling attack comprising Ashwin, Ravinder Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav. They have the potential to pick up 20 wickets in a test match. But Bhuvi’s (Bhubaneswar Kumar) absence will be felt. He is such a bowler who could make a difference. With swing and accuracy, he can make the life of the batsmen in the crease difficult, especially in English condition. But India have enough bench strength and I hope that the other bowlers will make the opportunity count.
CS: What could be the best possible bowling combination for team India?
HS: It depends on the pitch and condition. I feel 3 pacers and 2 spinners could be okay. Kuldeep should play with Ashwin. This guy can make a difference in the test series. In the limited overs series, he impressed with his line and length. Kuldeep never fears to keep the ball on air. Wrist spinners could be very effective in English condition as they can generate an extra bit of bounce. This time, the wickets in England are looking dry. The spinners could expect turn from 3rd onwards. English batsmen successfully played Kuldeep in the last two matches of the ODI series, especially Joe Root. But test match is a different ball game and Kuldeep will bounce back.
CS: Virat Kohli doesn’t have a great record against England. Can he turn the table this time?
HS: Of course he will. Look, Virat had a very bad series last time India toured England. But it was 4 years back and he is a completely different batsman now. He is looking very confident. Virat has dominated each and every bowling attack and scored heavily in the last couple of years. This time you will see a different Virat Kohli in England.