Harbhajan hits out at critics

Jallandhar: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh on Tuesday hit out at those who have criticised his patchy performance in the World Cup, asserting that he ought to be praised and not ridiculed.

Harbhajan, who took 9 wickets in 9 matches and was overshadowed by part-time spinner Yuvraj Singh who bagged 15 scalps, has come in for criticism for appearing to focus on containing the batsmen rather than attacking them during the tournament.

"I bowled at different points of innings: in slog overs, in powerplays. My economy rate is 4.48 from the tournament. It is to be praised and not ridiculed", the veteran spinner said.

"I am faulted for my effort. Everyone conveniently forgets that one-day cricket is all about building pressure, bowling tightly to create pressure on the opponents, create openings", he said.

Harbhajan said the Indian bowling attack was the butt of criticism, but "now nobody remembers that we won the quarter-final because of our bowlers. The semi-finals? Because of our bowlers. Not many top teams can be halted at 260 or stopped from chasing a total of thereabouts".

Underlining the team`s fielding effort in the knock-out stages, Harbhajan said, "nobody writes about the 10 runs we saved in the field in the final four overs against Australia. But we know what it meant to us. What it meant to the team and our win".

"I would say: please stop criticising. Back us. Encourage us. If you keep telling a youngster he is no good, he might begin to doubt himself. A pat in the back could bring the very best out of him".

According to Harbhajan, the pressure on the team was as much of expectations as it was from uncalled for criticism.