| Teammates congratulate Harbhajan Singh after the off-spinner scalped his fifth wicket of the innings Saturday, while Marlon Samuels acknowledges cheers after reaching his century at the Eden. Pictures by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta, Nov. 2: Three wickets on the second day raised hopes of another magic spell that could have left the visitors floored but Harbhajan Singh had nothing to show as West Indies took the lead Friday.
Saturday was, however, different as wickets fell in a heap and Bhajji grabbed two more to record his 11th five-wicket haul.
“I’m happy with my performance. Hopefully we can put the pressure back on them. If we can win here, the effort will be fruitful,” Harbhajan said after the day’s play.
“This is just the beginning,” he warned. “There is still a lot of cricket left in me. God willing, I will double this haul of five wickets.”
The offie didn’t have any special plan of attack. “I only stick to the basics of line and length. Sometimes even good bowling doesn’t bear much fruit but on other days they come in a bunch.”
The cheerful and affable Punjab off spinner seems to have a special liking for the Eden Gardens wicket.
Thirteen wickets against Australia, including a hattrick, gave his career a fresh lease of life in 2001.
“The first hour at the Eden is always very crucial. There is good bounce and once (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul left in the morning we utilised the conditions.”
But Harbhajan is keeping his fingers crossed. “It will all depend on how we bat and bowl on the final day. If we can put a lead of more than 200, the pressure will be back on them.
“Now both sides are on an equal footing. (V.V.S.) Laxman and Sachin (Tendulkar) will have to bat under great pressure on the final morning. You just can’t say what will happen in cricket.”
Harbhajan feels that the West Indies batsmen have been improving with every passing game. “Chanderpaul has always been good. Marlon Samuels batted well. They read us well and kept on improving along the series.”
Sachin Samuels’ idol
Coming from the land of Brian Lara, Marlon Samuels’ role model is, guess who, Sachin Tendulkar. And as luck would have it, the Indian scored his 31st Test hundred on a day the West Indian completed his maiden century.
The Master Blaster inspires him in many ways. “A lot of things put together both on and off the field,” the Jamaican, who met Sachin during the one-day series in Zimbabwe last summer, said.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. The wicket did turn and bounce a bit in the morning and the atmosphere was so different from home. It’s unbelievable to do it in front of so many people,” he said.
“Considering this was my first game of the series, I was under a lot of pressure. But I used it to positive effect.
“The Indian spinners had been bowling superbly and got a lot of wickets in the series. Playing against them was a big motivation for me,” Samuels remarked.