Harbhajan Singh refuses to praise Steve O'Keefe's abilities
Spinner OKeefe was the despoiler-in-command against the dismal Indian side.
What’s the story?
Veteran Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh is no stranger to controversies. The off-spinner was forced to mince his words after his prediction for the Australia tour of India was proved absolutely wrong right after the first Test match.
Harbhajan refused to praise the abilities of Steve O’Keefe – Man of the Match in the first Test. While speaking during a Vijay Hazare Trophy match, he said, “I will have to see him bowl on a good Test match wicket. Not this one. Till then, I will reserve my comments."
In case you didn’t know...
Harbhajan Singh was one of the many cricket veterans to write off the touring Australian side. He had said that this Australian team is 'the weakest Australian side to tour India.'
Bhajji is infamous for ripping through the Australian batting order when they toured India in 2001. He scalped 32 wickets in the series with 28 of them coming from last two Test matches. His career-best match figures of 15 wickets for 217 is from the same series.
The heart of the matter
The Australians are Bhajji’s favourite opposition. In the 18 Test matches he has played against them, he has enjoyed enormous success with 95 wickets. In addition to this, he was involved in the ugly ‘Monkey-gate’ controversy.
Bhajji has now lost his place in the main string Indian team due to the emergence of spinners like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. But that has not stopped him from taunting the Australians.
Before the series began, he had said that it will be an easy 4-0 win for the Indians but only if the visitors offer any fight, it could be 3-0. However, against all predictions and expectations, the Steven Smith-led side beat India by a staggering margin of 333 runs in the first Test match.
Spinner O’Keefe was the despoiler-in-command against the dismal Indian side and snatched his career-best match figures of 70/12. But Harbhajan who congratulated the Aussie side for victory did not credit O’Keefe for the same. He said that any bowler could have taken wickets easily on this Pune pitch and that the Aussie spinner needs to prove the same on a ‘good Test match wicket’.
The Australian spinners will be high on confidence, especially the 32-year-old O’Keefe who just played his 5th Test match. He will be hoping to prove his critics wrong and he now has 3 more chances in the series to do the same. The second Test match is scheduled to take place on 4th of March at Bengaluru.
We all know that the Australians are pioneers of mind-games. We believe that Harbhajan Singh is giving back the same but perhaps, it is just that he is slightly going overboard here. It will be better if Bhajji refrains from commenting because the Australians now have every chance to prove their doubters wrong and win this series.