The Indian bowlers had a torrid time against South African batting line-up led by AB de Villiers but senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said he “enjoyed the challenge” as he managed to hold his own for the better part of the limited overs series.
The 35-year-old joined the team before the second ODI in Indore and ended up taking 6 wickets from 4 games, but more importantly, bowled economically giving away only 5.30 runs per over considering that three of the four strips were batsmen’s paradise.
“It was a series that I really enjoyed playing. It is always a challenge when you face a world class opposition and that’s exactly when you would need to give more than 100 per cent for the team. I am personally very satisfied with how I bowled in the series,” said Harbhajan, who was the only specialist bowler apart from Amit Mishra, to complete his full quota of overs in all matches.
Asked if he felt bad at not being a part of first two Test matches in Mohali and Bengaluru, the ‘Turbanator’ said that he has had a chat with Test skipper Virat Kohli, who explained to him the team combination.
“The captain (Test skipper Virat Kohli) told me that since South Africa will have three right-handers (Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers) in their top-order, they wanted a left-arm spinner (Ravindra Jadeja) to go with an off-spinner. It was really nice of them to explain me the situation. But I will certainly fight and win my place back in the Test team,” Harbhajan, who is only 17 wickets away from becoming second highest Indian wicket-taker in Tests, said.
Harbhajan will soon return to Ranji Trophy, where he would take over the Punjab captain’s mantle from his deputy Yuvraj Singh.
For India’s 3rd highest wicket-taker in Tests, each and every format is important.
“Yes, I have done well in the ODIs but I have not thought that I will play any specific formats. Each and every format is very important for me. I want to play all the three formats and do well for the country in each of them,” said the owner of 710 international scalps which include 417 Test, 269 ODI and 24 T20 wickets.
For Harbhajan, it was also very important that he could deliver what the limited overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni wanted from him. In fact Dhoni praised his performance during his interactions with the media.
“The captain always has a plan in mind and as a bowler it is my job to execute it. How I implement it is upto me but you need to put your hand up in tough situations. I would prefer bowling to AB (de Villiers), Faf (du Plessis) or Quinton (de Kock) as they are attacking players. It gives me a chance to devise various strategies,” said Harbhajan.
One of the vintage Harbhajan deliveries in the series was the one with which he got De Kock out in the Chennai one dayer. The ball had everything – flight that deceived the left-hander, turn and bounce making it a classical off-break bowler’s delivery.
“I am trying a few improvisations. I am trying to be slower in the air. You need to figure out the conditions of a particular pitch before one decides on the variations that one wants to use.”
Talking about the Mumbai match, where the Indian bowling attack was plundered, Harbhajan went for only 34 in his first 7 overs before De Villiers stuck into the Indian attack.