'WC a big test for young turks'

Bhajjis view: Chance for glory

Central figure: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh’s form will have a telling impact on  India’s campaign in the upcoming World Cup.

“From my personal experience, I can tell you that our good show in South Africa may give us a bit of confidence but that’s about it. Doing well in bouncy pitches in South Africa and playing in the World Cup is a different ball game altogether,” Harbhajan said.

Elaborating his view, Harbhajan said, “If you remember, we had a disastrous tour of New Zealand where we lost in both Test and ODI series. But when we played in the World Cup, it was a different story. In fact, we completely dominated while we beat New Zealand and played in the finals. That’s why I feel that a bilateral series can never be an indicator to a team’s performance in a big event,” the feisty off-spinner said.

A veteran of 93 Tests and 217 ODIs, Harbhajan, said India’s chances in this year’s World Cup depends on how young players handle the pressure. “As a senior player, I have loads of expectations from guys like Virat, Yusuf and Raina. Just like we (Sehwag, Nehra, Zaheer, Kaif) were the youngest lot in 2003. These youngsters will be eager to show how well they can manage to hold their nerves on big stage. They have had enough exposure in international cricket and I am really hopeful that they would come up trumps.”

On personal front, Harbhajan is happy that he is in a good frame of mind going into the big event. “If you are an Indian cricketer, then you become adept at handling pressure. I have played long enough to not let pressure affect my game in crunch situations. It has come with years of experience at the international level,” said the offie from Jalandhar.
His batting has been a revelation of late and one gets a feeling that his perspective towards batting has changed. “Earlier, the approach used to be a slam bang one and I would try to hit any delivery out of sight. Now I try to get my eye in first and then go for attack. Also, if I am batting with the batsman, I try to rotate and give the specialist as much strike as possible,” Harbhajan said.

On various captains that he has played under in international cricket, Harbhajan terms Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ganguly as the two who always back their bowlers. “Both Sourav and Dhoni have been able to get the best of out of me. The reason being both are good bowlers’ captain. It is essential for a captain and his bowlers to strike a good rapport. In case of Sourav, he exactly knew what to expect from a Javagal Srinath, a Zaheer Khan or a Harbhajan Singh. Ditto for Dhoni.

“Another aspect is their faith in bowlers to let them set their own field. Both Sourav and Dhoni would allow me to set my own field which means the skipper has faith on my thought process,” he added.

Asked whether figured out any difference between the two, Harbhajan said, “Yes, Dhoni can remain very calm in the most trying circumstances but Sourav was more expressive in his body language.” When the topic of Eden Gardens was broached, he became a touch sad. “It is sad that we won’t be playing infront of a packed Eden Gardens crowd which always behind you.”

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