Harbhajan Singh`s absence hurting India: Akram

Sydney: Former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram feels that the absence of experienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is costing India dearly on the bouncy Australian pitches as Ravichandran Ashwin is only good enough for sub-continental wickets.

"It was evident that India missed Harbhajan. On pitches with bounce and grass, the job of the spinner is to contain and not look for too much of turn. Let the batsman hit out over your head.”

"At least try and lure them to hit you over the top. India needed someone experienced like Harbhajan, who knows how to stop the batsman from taking singles and maintains pressure from one end. The Australians were playing Ashwin with ease and changing strike without a problem," Akram said.

Akram said that young Ashwin`s limitations were exposed by the Australian batsmen during the second Test at Sydney, which India lost by an innings and 68 runs.

"In Australia, you will not get turning tracks. Even Australian spinner Nathan Lyon could not impress. So, what you will get here as a spinner is bounce. Ashwin hasn`t learnt to bowl on wickets offering bounce. He knows how to extract turn from helpful surfaces back home," said the legendary paceman.

After a spirited show in the first Test in Melbourne where they were able to take 20 Australian wickets, Indian bowlers came a cropper in Sydney picking only four.

Akram said he was disappointed to see Indian pacers struggle on a more helpful track at the SCG.

"You cannot get more helpful conditions anywhere in the world as the fast bowlers got in the first two Tests. Zaheer Khan was the only bowler who looked like taking a wicket. I think it`s a psychological barrier that they need to cross.”

"Ishant Sharma was inconsistent but unlucky as well. His only decent spell was on third morning when he ruffled the well-set Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey for a brief time. Umesh Yadav is a young kid and he will go through these phases. He looked ordinary but the SCG mauling should be a learning curve for him," said the 45-year-old.

Akram was also critical of the role played by bowling coach Eric Simmons.

"It is the job of the bowling coach to help bowlers adjust to different pitches. After the debacle in England, one would have thought the bowlers would have learnt, but they have found the going tough.”

"As a bowler, one needs to be ready to hit the deck hard in Australia. At the same time, it is so important to bowl maiden overs on-the-trot," said Akram.