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Harbhajan form a worry for Sourav

Brisbane: Sourav Ganguly said his leading spin bowler Harbhajan Singh needed to lift his game to offer the team any hope of beating Australia in the ongoing Test series. India drew the first Test honourably at the Gabba on Monday but the India captain said he was concerned about Harbhajan’s form.

Harbhajan, who had captured 32 wickets in India’s stunning 2-1 series win over Australia on the sub-continent in 2001, collected just one for 169 from 35 overs in Brisbane.

Sourav said the off-spinner was capable of playing better. “I think he’s a much better bowler than he bowled in this match,” the skipper said at the post-match conference.

“He’s a class act but, like anyone, he can have an off game. I want him to do well because he’s a wicket-taker... He has to bowl better than this if we are to be successful.”

On the final-day performance, when the Aussies raced to 284 for three declared in the second innings, Sourav said the bowling was a bit depleted as a hamstring pull forced Zaheer Khan to sit out after sending down just three overs.

“Zaheer is the spearhead of our attack. His injury is not serious but since we have three more Tests to play and as this one was heading towards a draw, we did not take a chance,” Sourav said.

On the slow over-rate, Sourav said the team reduced the gap by three overs in the second innings and added that it would surely be in the everyone’s mind in the next Test matches.

Sourav said he was pleased by his team’s overall performance but there was definitely scope for improvement before Friday’s second Test. “When you play against a side like Australia you all have to perform... I think the bowling needs to be a bit better if we want to win Test matches and we have to keep on getting 400 runs if we want to beat Australia.

“Cricket is a confidence game. All 22 who take the field in Adelaide will have to start from scratch and do well again.”

Sachin Tendulkar’s “graceful” acceptance of a shocker of a leg-before decision prompted the media here to declare the Indian genius was akin to Don Bradman not only in technique but in spirit as well.

Tendulkar was ruled leg-before by West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor off Jason Gillespie and replays showed the ball would have missed the stumps. It took Tendulkar completely by surprise and also the bowler as was later admitted by Gillespie.

The Australian wrote: “Tendulkar proved he is a Sir Donald Bradman clone not just in technique but in spirit. As he left he did not look back at Bucknor, nor shake his head or even try and look up at the big screen waiting for a television replay.

“It was inspiring stuff. In a season where we have heard some pretentious chest thumping about the spirit of cricket there we have a stellar example of what it all means. (Reuters)

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