| Harbhajan Singh en route to his 60 in Wellington on Friday. (AFP) |
Wellington: Harbhajan Singh shone with the bat on the first day of Indias third Test against New Zealand here Friday as the tail wagged to take the visitors to 375 for nine.
Harbhajan admitted later that he was disappointed at not getting the hundred but added he is still improving as a batsman and is not yet good enough to score a Test century.
The following are excerpts
If he is disappointed to have missed the century
Very much. Im very upset. I should have got the century. This was my best chance.
Did he play one stroke too many?
That is the way I play.
What does he need to score that elusive century?
I am improving as a batman and making an effort to score a hundred some day. But at this point in time, I think I am not good enough to make it happen. But as and when the team needs me, as in Nagpur, Sydney, Bangalore, I have scored runs. It is important for me, Zaheer and Ishant to stay there at the wicket with the batsmen, and score some crucial runs. Itll definitely help us.
If he was determined to contribute with the bat
Obviously. It was crucial to contribute lower down the order. Now if we look at the scoreboard, we have got decent runs on it. When I went in to bat, probably it wasnt the same. Thankfully, me, Dhoni and Zaheer, Munaf and Ishant got 180-odd runs in the last session. It was a fantastic effort.
If scoring was difficult
No. They bowled short to me. On these kind of wickets, it is easy to score runs if you bowl short.
On not going for broke at 204 for six
Many teams would think that way. But I knew and I had done it before. Today (Friday) was again a very good chance for me to go there under pressure and deliver. Thank God Ive done well. Dhoni and I had a great partnership.
What is the secret of the Indian bowlers improvement with the bat?
Tips. Sachin is there. He keeps telling us to play side on. Everyone has been helpful, except Viru. If Viru advises us, hell tell us to hit every ball for a six.
Did India have any target in mind when they came out to bat in the morning?
We didnt have any target in mind but we were looking to bat the whole day. Weve achieved that target. Unfortunately, weve lost nine wickets. It would have been nice to get these runs losing just six or seven wickets. But we are happy that weve at least got runs on the board.
On the pitch
This is a two-paced wicket. Some balls are coming quickly, but a few are stopping at the batsman. You need to hit the right sort of length on a wicket like this. I am sure if we do that, well get wickets. Hopefully, it will spin as well.
What does one need to pick up wickets on this pitch?
The ball is doing a bit if you can pitch in the right areas. We just need to be patient when we come to bowl tomorrow (Saturday), and hit the right areas.
If he is hoping to get help from the pitch while bowling
Most wickets in New Zealand dont seem to be spinner-friendly. Ill just go out there and give it my best shot. Ive bowled well in the one-day series and in the Test series so far, even though many people have been writing crap about me, that Im only good enough in India etc.
Do India have enough on the board?
It was a good day for us. 375 on a first-day wicket, after being put in to bat, was a good effort.
DAY I HIGHLIGHTS
This (60) is Harbhajan Singh’s highest score against New Zealand (previous highest was 20 in Hamilton in 2002).
This is also Harbhajan’s fifth score over 50 since January 2008. He now has seven 50s in Tests — four against Australia and one each against Zimbabwe, England and New Zealand.
Dhoni (52) recorded his maiden Test half-century against New Zealand in his second match. He now has 50-plus scores against all Test-playing nations.
Sachin Tendulkar, during his innings of 62, became the highest run-getter (with 335 runs) in a series for India in New Zealand. He went past the previous tally of 328 runs by Ajit Wadekar, in four matches, during the 1967-68 series.
The total of 375 for nine is now the most made by India on the first day of a Test match . The previous best was 372 for seven against South Africa in Bloemfontein in November 2001.
Compiled by mohandas menon