Time running out for under-fire Harbhajan Singh after Galle failure
As the beleaguered Indian cricket team start picking up pieces after a 'Shocking Saturday', the spotlight is firmly fixed on team's senior-most pro Harbhajan Singh whose unimpressive show in the 63-run defeat has raised question marks about his future.
Galle: As the beleaguered Indian cricket team start picking up pieces after a 'Shocking Saturday', the spotlight is firmly fixed on team's senior-most pro Harbhajan Singh whose unimpressive show in the 63-run defeat has raised question marks about his future.
In a match, where all 40 wickets fell, five specialist spinners from either side accounted for 31 of them. But the piece of statistic that would certainly disturb Harbhajan is the fact that his share his 1 out of 31 giving away 90 runs in 25 overs.
While India's strike bowler Ravi Ashwin had a 10-for, Amit Mishra also did his case no harm by picking up five wickets in two innings.
For Sri Lanka, Tharindu Kaushal got eight scalps while 37-year-old Rangana Herath -- the oldest among 22 players made amends for a disappointing first innings with a match-winning seven-wicket haul.
Just when one finds how Herath turned the clock back and defied all odds to win a Test match for his side, Harbhajan's time on the field seemed like a struggle as he went through the motions with Dinesh Chandimal knocking the stuffing out of the Indian attack.
Skipper Virat Kohli however admitted that the 'Turbanator' bowled only one good spell but then in his defence said that all bowlers during that phase were punished by Chandimal.
"I think in the second innings, a spell he bowled was nice one. He was getting good rhythm but after that Chandimal started attacking every bowler. I think that threw him off, along with others, in that particular session," Kohli defended the 35-year-old senior off-spinner.
While Kohli's decision to use his bowlers in short bursts did pay off at times but it did have its negative impacts when a particular bowler did not get time to settle down.
"The idea is basically to not let the batsmen get used to a particular bowler's rhythm. So it keeps the guys fresh and it is possible for them to come out and bowl a four-five over spell and bowl attacking lines again. Our aim is to take 20 wickets and the bowlers did a very good job to do that and get us right into the game," Kohli said at post-match press conference.
Harbhajan looked off colour from the very beginning, and it became more apparent as the match wore on. In the first innings, he bowled shorter lengths than Ashwin, and was easily negotiated by Mathews and Chandimal. He did not extract as sharp turn as Ashwin and did not look half as potent as his teammate from Tamil Nadu.
If one compares Harbhajan with Herath -- since they are in the same age bracket, the biggest aspect was the corrections he made in the second innings which certainly was not the case with Harbhajan.
"When you get old, you've to do something special, compare to others. I have gathered a lot of experiences during the last few years. Yet, if I can learn something more, I'm ready to learn and gather those information," Herath's statement seemed like something that Harbhajan could certainly take note of.