Weeks after accusing R Ashwin of claiming wickets on pitches that assist the spinners, out-of-favour Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has termed R Ashwin’s performance in the first innings of the first Test as an off day and backed both Ashwin and Jadeja to come good in the second innings.
The wicket for the first Test at Rajkot had nothing for the spin bowlers in the first two days and Ashwin returned with figures of 2-167 in 46 overs in the first innings. He said it’s always fun to bowl on the wickets that challenge the bowlers and the bowlers should be consistent with their lines, try different things and toil hard for wickets.
While speaking to PTI, Harbhajan said,
“Mazaa toh tab hain jab wickets challenging ho (It's fun when the track throws up challenge for the bowlers). You have to be consistent with your lines and try different things. You have to toil to get wickets and that brings to the fore your skills as a bowler.”
Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Moeen Ali scored centuries in England’s 537 in the first innings and the turbanator praised the England batsmen for their performance and was confident that Ashwin and Jadeja will get back to what they do the best, taking wickets at regular intervals. He also claimed that he is expecting India to win the series 3-0 and Ashwin to take a lot of wickets.
"Root, Stokes and Moeen are all good players. While they are a young team they have batted well in the Test match so far. But it is still early days. You can't write off Indian bowlers. It's one off thing and I am backing both Ashwin and Jadeja to come good in the second innings. Ashwin is a very capable bowler. I expect him to get a lot of wickets. I am expecting India to win at least 3-0."
Harbhajan, who has not been a part of the Punjab’s playing XI in any of their 4 previous matches is not ready for an international return. He is set to feature in their next game against Tamil Nadu at Nagpur from November 21 and said he will consider himself for any challenge once he gets back to the field.
“I will be playing Punjab's next Ranji Trophy game against Tamil Nadu from November 21st. If you would ask me if I am ready for international cricket I would say 'no' but post November 21, once I am back in the field, I would consider myself ready for any type of challenge,” Harbhajan said.