Dravid credits Harbhajan for India’s good position

Sunday, November 14, 2010

HYDERABAD - Rahul Dravid Sunday gave Harbhajan Singh a lot of credit for India being in a reasonably good position at stumps on the third day of the second cricket Test against New Zealand at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here.

New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor concurred with Dravid’s assessment, saying the Indian off-spinner had taken a hundred and two 50s off their attack and he has obviously improved his batting a lot.

With 269 runs in the series, Harbhajan has a better aggregate than some of the mainline batsmen. India owe a lot to him if they are 86 runs ahead with the last pair still going strong, having added 69 runs.

Harbhajan, batting 85, is 15 runs short of back-to-back hundreds in Tests and Sreesanth is keeping him company.

“It was a fantastic innings, it was truly an attacking innings, and a good last-wicket partnership with Sreesanth, that has given us a slight advantage,” said Dravid.

The Black Caps were at the receiving end of Harbhajan’s big hitting for the second time in the series and this time he only had Sreesanth to bat with.

“He’s batting beautifully, he is the new Gary Sobers,” quipped Dravid.

“He is a clean striker of the ball. Once ball is flying around the ropes, the tendency is to push people back in an attempt to get the No 11 out. Credit to Sreesanth for playing some 50 balls.

“Even with men on the boundary, Harbhajan was taking them on and clearing the ropes. There is not much you can do in that situation,” said Dravid.

Sachin Tendulkar’s early dismissal created all the problems.

“Irrespective of who you are, you take time to get used to the conditions,” Dravid explained as to why the scoring rate fell in the pre-lunch session.

“Tendulkar added only two runs to his overnight score. Sachin

didn’t get those initial runs to settle down and got out. On most days, you would have him execute that shot but it was a good ball that dipped and turned, and it was a good catch, too.

“I thought Vettori bowled really well. A top-class bowler, he varies his flight and pace beautifully. He was obviously tired towards the end and Bhajji got after him.”

Talking of the visitors’ excellent fielding, Dravid said: “Their ground fielding was exceptional, they stopped so many runs, especially when Laxman and I were batting.”

Dravid, who looked well set for another big one, said he was disappointed at the way he got out.

“It is disappointing, having done all the hard work, we just

couldn’t carry on. The good thing is we have been playing well as a team and we are getting the kind of scores we need in these conditions.”

Dravid thought India are in with a chance.

“On Indian wickets, things start happening on the last two days and we would like to get as many runs as we can to apply pressure on New Zealand. Batting is going to be difficult as the game goes on.”

Taylor felt their tactics of bowling short to rattle Harbhajan and last man Sreesanth went unstuck.

“Harbhajan has taken two fifties and a hundred off us. Our plans will have to be revisited,” said Taylor.

“The plan to bowl short did not work. He has obviously improved his batting. After three innings, no one would have believed that he’d have nearly as many runs as Sehwag (270). With the straight boundary being short, Harbhajan hurt us. What would have been pretty good balls to most batsmen, he was hitting them for six.”

With Harbhajan on the rampage, the Indians rattled off 113 in the last session in the day’s 258 runs off 85 overs and Taylor did not know what hit them.

“It was one of those days where you’ll take the first five hours, the last hour was disappointing. You’ve got to give it to Harbhajan for the way he batted.”

Taylor was disappointed that things went awry despite their splendid fielding.

“We always took a great pride in our fielding, an area we can control. Brendon, Williamson and Guptill were outstanding in the field.”

Taylor felt they could still get back into the match if they could restrict India’s lead to less than 100 and give them over 150 runs to chase in the last innings.

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