Harbhajan spoils New Zealand’s plans, admits Taylor

Hyderabad: Ross Taylor credited Harbhajan Singh for turning the match in India’s favour and said that the last hour, during which the off spinner went hammer and tongs with the bat, foiled New Zealand’s plans on the third day of the second Test here.

“The last hour was disappointing but full credit to Harbhajan. (It) would have been better if we were 20 or 30 runs behind by the end,” said Taylor, after New Zealand let India score 113 runs in the final session of play at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

“Plans didn’t go as we have liked them to,” the Kiwi added.

Harbhajan smashed the Kiwi bowlers to smithereens during his swashbuckling unbeaten knock of 85 off just 82 deliveries, and his unbroken 69-run last-wicket partnership with S Sreesanth helped India finish the day at a commanding 436 for nine, thereby enjoying a lead of 86 runs.

Asked about the team’s chances in the last two days, Taylor said, “We will try and keep the lead to 100 and then bat the whole day tomorrow and score around 260 (till stumps on the penultimate day).”

Harbhajan’s onslaught, after New Zealand gave themselves a chance by removing Pragyan Ojha with India’s total at 367 for nine, almost put paid to their hopes of securing a famous win.

The off spinner had scored a century and a fifty in the first Test at Motera and his knock off 85 today, has taken his aggregate to 269 runs, one run short of Virender Sehwag.

Asked if the New Zealand team management had any specific plan or analysed Harbhajan’s batting, Taylor said, “We have plans for every batsmen but Harbhajan has really improved his batting.”

When pointed out that skipper Daniel Vettori had bowled the bulk of the overs in the innings, the New Zealander said, “Going into the match with one spinner, he knew he was going to bowl long spells and Martin was also doing well.”