The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League got off to a slow start as spinners dominated the show on the first day. Both MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli expressed their disappointment over the Chepauk track, but Harbhajan Singh believes that the wicket was difficult to bat but it was not unplayable.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, the 38-year-old cricketer said, “See, it was a difficult pitch to bat on but it wasn’t like it was unplayable. We’re so used to watching matches on good wickets where no one complains when people score 170-180. But if it spins or seams a little, everyone has a problem, saying why is this happening?”
He added, “No one has a problem with why so many runs are being made. So people actually forget that the bowler also has a job in cricket. Batsmen should struggle once in a while so that they understand that it should be a battle of bat and ball.”
After electing to field first, defending champions Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni introduced Harbhajan Singh in the second over of the Royal Challengers Bangalore innings. Dhoni’s calculated move paid off as the experienced spinner removed RCB skipper Virat Kohli in his second over. He then inflicted further damage on the RCB side as he added another two wickets to his tally. RCB were bundled out for 70 in 17.1 overs and Chennai chased down the low target in 17.4 overs, with seven wickets to spare.
The Indian tweaker who was named man of the match for his brilliant bowling spell of three for 20 also felt that in some instances the batsman threw their wickets by playing rash shots. “In some places, yes, they played some rash shots as well. It was not that this was a 70 runs wicket. You’ll get at least 120 if you apply yourself.”
He also expressed astonishment at the amount of turn the wicket generated. “It was a wicket where it was holding a bit. We honestly didn’t expect it to turn so much as it did today. We played a practice match here and the wicket was a good one. We would have preferred to play on a wicket that wouldn’t spin as much as this did. Hopefully it would be better hereafter.”
Speaking on his performance, Harbhajan said, “It is nice to be on the winning side and contributing, especially taking the wickets of Virat (Kohli), AB (de Villiers) and Moeen (Ali)…top-order batters. This is the kind of performance that is expected from me, being the senior bowler in the side. Though people might think that I am old but the experience is something I have gained over the years, which no one can take away from me. I am glad to contribute to the win.”
He also praised the contribution made by Ravindra Jadeja, who scalped two wickets in the match, and feels he could be a crucial member in the 15-man squad for the upcoming World Cup. “I feel someone like Ravindra Jadeja is always in the game as long as he is looking to spin the ball. He is someone, though I don’t want to talk way too much about the World Cup, I feel he could be a key member for the Indian team to win that. He bowls, bats and is a brilliant fielder, a gun fielder. Finger spinners should be given the responsibility and they will deliver.”