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Batsmen alone can't win India the World Cup: Harbhajan Singh

The 34-yar-old speaks about India's chances at the World Cup.

Harbhajan Singh

Discarded Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has said that while India have an extremely competent batting line-up at their disposal, the bowlers will also have to make important contributions if the Men in Blue are to retain the World Cup. The 34-year-old was part of the victorious campaign in 2011, but wasn’t named even in the 30-man preliminary squad, for the mega event, this time around.

"India possess a fabulous batting line-up with Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane forming the core but we would need the likes of Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami to perform like Zaheer Khan, in order to retain the World Cup," Harbhajan told in an interview to PTI.

The 34-year-old added that India are likely to play with four bowlers in their line-up and three out of the four should have a good day if the defending champions are to do well. He further said that it could become extremely difficult if both the bowlers gave away runs from either end.

"I think we would be playing with four specialist bowlers and may be an all-rounder (Stuart Binny). With the field restrictions and two new balls, I believe we need at least three bowlers to perform on any given day out of four.

"It's always not possible for all four to perform on a given day but at the most, we must have three of the four specialist bowlers performing in every match. At the most, we can have one bowler on a given day who might not click but you can't afford to have two bowlers leaking runs from both sides.Then it can create pressure on other bowlers also,” he said.

Being a spinner himself, Harbhajan said that the spinning trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel won't have a hard time trying to grip the white Kookaburra balls as the seam on the ball is retained for a longer period of time.

"There is a difference between a ball which is 45 overs old and one which is 25 overs old. In Australia, the white kookaburras used from either side will be barely 10-12 overs old when the spinners come into operation (in case they are not called in Powerplay overs). The seam would still be intact which would help the spinners grip it better and get more purchase out of the tracks," the veteran of 101 Tests said.

Don’t read too much into India’s performance in the tri-series: Harbhajan

He further said one must not look too much into the performance of the team in the recent Carlton Mid tri-series, adding that India were hampered by injuries to some of the main players during the tournament.

"I don't think performance in Tri-series will be parameter as India are strong contenders to get into semi-final along with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

“Don't forget we had injury issues and everybody wasn't 100 percent fit. With the break, I believe everyone would come into the World Cup fresh and raring to go," Harbhajan said.

Kohli raises his game when the team is under pressure: Harbhajan

He also lavished praise on Indian batsman Virat Kohli, saying that the 26-year-old right-hander backs himself to chase any kind of total that has been set by the opposition and added that Kohli has got a great ability to raise his game when the pressure is on.

"Virat thrives in pressure situation. The more the pressure on Virat, better he plays. There aren't too many batsmen in world cricket today, who love chasing and burden of trying to overtake a big score. Virat is one guy, who would always back himself to chase any total,” he said.?

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