December 11, 2017

Harbhajan Singh puts India in box seat

Harbhijan Singh - He might not bat like Sachin Tendulkar but he has scored more runs than the 'little master' in this series.

Harbhajan Singh has ended the third day of the second Cricket Test in Hyderabad on 85 not out to swing the Match India’s way.

New Zealand had fought hard in the first half of the day to have India only 17 runs ahead with the last pair at the wicket. Surely lightning could not strike three times – but it did.

Harbhajan had starred with the bat in each of India’s innings in the first test at Ahmedabad, scoring his maiden first class century in the second innings. Now he combined with Shantakumaran Sreesanth to defy the Black Caps with an unbroken 69 run partnership for the 10th wicket.

India finished the day on 436 for nine to lead by 86 runs and seize the initiative from New Zealand who were looking in the box seat for much of the day until the final session onslaught by Singh.

Harbhajan an above average off-spinner who is world class at getting under opponents skin (especially the Australians) with his helpful comments and arrogance has taken his art form to another level by scoring runs – lots of runs for India’s tail.

Not long ago India’s tailend batting could be safely relied upon to capitulate quickly, but Harbhajan has single handedly changed all that. There can be nothing more frustrating for the New Zealand team than to work hard in the heat and defeat the world’s strongest batting line-up only to have Harbhajan defy them for the second Test in a row.

Matthew Hayden got into trouble two years ago for describing Harbhajan as a “little obnoxious weed”. Well it is safe to say that Harbhajan would have been at his obnoxious best again yesterday taking the opportunity to remind the tired New Zealanders that he was still there and scoring lots of runs.

One of the endearing aspects of cricket is that there is still room in the game for genuine ‘characters’. Political correctness has not totally suppressed all individual expression from the game. Good on Harbhajan for being one of crickets ‘individuals’ and congratulations from newswarped for your batting exploits that will be being applauded by tailenders at all levels the world over.

India 436 for 9 (Harbhajan 85*, Laxman 74, Vettori 4-123) lead New Zealand 350 by 86 runs.