They might have lost the T20I cricket series to South Africa but India ace spinner Harbhajan Singh said it’s too early to write them off as the hosts are keen to turn around their fortunes in the last and final match on Thursday.
“We have lost the series but we still have a lot to play in the final game. Hopefully we will win and from there onward it could be a different story,” Harbhajan told reporters on the eve of the match.
“The ODIs are coming up and then the Tests. We want to play our best game and we want to put up our best show. Once we start winning we will be a difficult side to beat.”
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After the T20I series, India and South Africa play five ODIs followed by four Tests in a long 72-day Freedom Series. Citing example of the recently-concluded Test series in Sri Lanka where India bounced back to win the series after losing the first match, Harbhajan said: “It was because of the belief that we had.
“Every game is a challenge for us from here on. Yes we have lost the series and we didn’t play as well as we should have but Eden is always a very special ground for all of us.
“Obviously winning here will mean a lot to us. We will go out there and give it our best shot. If we win here, we will take that confidence into the ODI series,” he said.
India failed to defend 200 in the first T20I Dharamsala, while in the last match they were skittled out for their second lowest total of 92 to concede a decisive 0-2 lead to the visitors.
“I don’t think we need to worry too much about the losses in our last two games. We are hurt by those losses but going forward and talking about the World Twenty20,” he said.
Harbhajan, who’s India’s highest wicket-taking off-spinner, said it’s about backing their spinners ahead of the next year’s World Twenty20.
“I think it is important to back the players who are probably the best players for the format. This has been the quality of this team; they have stuck to the players who they believe can win the game.
“That is what we need to do as a team. We need to reunite ourselves and give our best performance.”
Looking ahead to the World Twenty20, Harbhajan said spinners would play a crucial role if they’re to regain the title that they had won in 2007.
“Spin has been India’s strength and obviously we will be playing the competition in India and lot of the tracks will be supporting the slower bowlers,” Harbhajan said.
“If you see the records in the IPL and other sort of T20 tournaments we have played, mostly spinners are the ones who take a lot of wickets and control the runs in the middle.
“T20 is all about taking wickets rather than just restricting the batsmen. I think spinners have a major role to play if India has to win the World T20. We have got four spinners in the team and all four have done well when they have got the opportunity. I am sure it is going to be a very exciting time to look forward to.”
Beside their incisive bowling, South Africa also have made difference with their fielding accounting for four dismissals in four matches.
“The last game was not a perfect game for us. We lost two wickets to run-outs and they (South Africa) fielded brilliantly. We took our chances against their fielders but it didn’t go our way,” Harbhajan said.
Harbhajan said it was all about playing positive cricket as they had some good runners in the side.
“In this format you have to push the fielders and obviously we have got some quick runners between the wickets. We have the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni himself who are all brilliant runners between the wickets.
“In Dharamsala it was a different story; we had two runs for the taking most of the times. We wanted to challenge their fielders and that is what you call playing positive cricket.”
Asked whether Ajinkya Rahane stands a chance to get a look-in, Harbhajan said: “Rahane is a quality player and there is no doubt about it.
“All depends on the team management as to what they feel will be the best team combination to win the game and going forward. Let’s see what they decide but as I said Rahane is a quality player; that is all I can say.
“I don’t know if there will be a change or not because I am not part of the decision making. One thing I can assure is, every player in the playing eleven will go for one motive and that is to win the game for India,” he said.