The Telegraph
Friday , February 22 , 2013
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‘Harbhajan will be toughest to face’

- We can cover all bases, says captain Michael Clarke
Michael Clarke, in Chennai, on Thursday

Chennai: Michael Clarke on Thursday congratulated Harbhajan Singh who is set to play his 100th Test and said the off-spinner would be the toughest to face among the Indian bowlers.

“Firstly I think this is great for Harbhajan… On behalf of the Australian team, we congratulate him. It’s a very special achievement.

“He is going to be very hard to face among all the Indian bowlers but we have our plans to win this Test,” Clarke said.

“Harbhajan has been a wonderful player. I always had a very good relationship with Harbhajan. I have faced challenges on the field as he is a very good bowler. He has played Test matches against the best players and I am sure that this Test is not going to be different,” the Australian captain added.

Clarke enquired whether Harbhajan had announced the Indian team. When told that Harbhajan had said Clarke would make changes to the team Friday, he quipped: “I would never say never. You would never know…”

On a serious note, Clarke sounded confident about their preparations ahead of the first Test.

“Well, they can be prepared as well as they can be. We have tried hard to be prepared as well we can. We have played two practice games earlier on.

“I am pretty confident that this wicket will spin and also pretty confident with the preparations that we have had for 10 days since being in India we are in much better position than what we were before coming here.

“You can only prepare as much as you can. Now it is about going out and having confidence in your own ability.

“Playing spin bowlers is no different to playing fast bowling… You need to have the courage to stick to that plan whether you make zero or 100. Sometimes it works well and sometimes it does not. Now we are going to try our best. That is for sure.”

He defended their bowling combination.

“I am going to play the way I play my best cricket. The same goes for the team. It is no good that we pick the same team as India.

“We have a different team to England or South Africa. We are going to try and use our strengths. We have an advantage in conditions where we think that fast bowling will play a part.

“But on the other hand we do have our balance in Nathan Lyon… David Warner is bowling lot of leg spin in the nets and I can bowl some left arm orthodox as well. So, I feel we can cover all bases but there is no doubt that our strength with three fast bowlers and a medium pacer is going to that.”

Clarke once again harped on the importance of this series.

“This is a huge series. Every time we come to India it is always tough cricket. India have always been one of the toughest teams to play against and we always look forward to that challenge.

“We are looking back at our performances against South Africa and Sri Lanka and we are not looking forward to the Ashes.

“We are really focused on this series in India and holding the advantage by winning the first Test.”