The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Harbhajan ready to shoulder more

Bangalore: Harbhajan Singh Sunday said he was hungry to win more and more matches for his country and ready to take over additional responsibility, if required.

The 23-year-old Harbhajan, who was preferred over veteran Anil Kumble for the larger part of the World Cup earlier this year, said he enjoys bowling in tandem with the 32-year-old leg spinner and together they have been quite successful.

“I consider Kumble as a senior bowler and respect him. I think we have done a good job together,” Harbhajan, one of the 36 probables undergoing the conditioning camp for the upcoming season, told reporters here.

Harbhajan said he knew one day he would have to step in Kumble’s shoes and was prepared for that.

“Obviously Kumble is a great bowler and has been winning matches for a long-time. But somebody has to come and take his spot. So, I would be happy if I can do that,” he said.

Harbhajan said whenever he is out in the middle his first priority is to help the team win the match rather than bother too much about his individual performance.

“Whenever I go, I just try to take wickets. As a bowler, you have to take as many wickets as possible for your country. Otherwise, it is of no use going out there.

“I know ultimately I have to win matches for the country. That is more important for me than taking two or five wickets.”

Asked about his injured finger, Harbhajan said it was okay now though he was still undergoing physiotherapy.

On India’s tour of Australia later this year, Harbhajan said if the team played to potential, they can beat Australia in their own backyard.

“If we play to our potential, we can really win the series against Australia. The tour will be a tough one but we are also a good side capable of beating anyone on our day.”

Asked if he saw any role for spinners on the fast tracks of Australia, Harbhajan said: “When Shane Warne can take wickets, why not we' The pitches would start turning on the third and fourth day of Test matches, and the role of spinners will be crucial,” he said.

He said the ongoing fitness-specific camp was bound to do a world of good to the players ahead of the two-Test series against New Zealand and the following tri-series, which has Australia as the third team. “We have to be very fit when we take on New Zealand and Australia and in this context this camp is extremely important.”

Harbhajan said the team’s fitness levels had improved by several notches in the recent past and it reflected on the good results produced by the side.

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