Mumbai: Out of favour Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said that Dale Steyn might not be a threat when India take on South Africa in the highly anticipated contest scheduled to begin early next year.
“Dale Steyn is unarguably the best fast bowler of the last 10 years but coming back into international cricket is not easy. A Test match against Zimbabwe will not exactly be an indicator of what he can do against India,” Harbhajan said to PTI in an interview.
The South African pace spearhead was out of action for a year ever since dislocating his shoulder against Australia last year. He has been out of competitive cricket since then.
Harbhajan further praised the Indian batting line-up, labelling it as some of the best in the world and also said that it would indeed be tough for the South African pacers to contain this batting unit.
“Look at the Indian batting line up. We have so much quality. Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma. This is perhaps among the best line-up in world cricket, ” he said.
He further added, “For both Steyn and Morkel, it will be a challenge to stop this line-up especially when they themselves will need to get into the groove.”
He also said that the Indian batsmen only needed to counter the bounce because of the lack of lateral movement on the South African pitches.
“The Kookaburra ball, as everyone knows, will stop seaming after 20 odd overs. Plus it’s only the bounce that needs to be taken care of,” he said.
The number six position in the Indian batting line-up in Tests has been uncertain for quite some time now. There are contenders for the spot in the form of all-rounder Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma but Harbhajan feels that the Mumbai batsman should be preferred because he isn’t quite sure as to how Pandya would perform as a batsman.
He said, “Rohit is a fabulous player. Someone who plays the pull shot well and also plays the cut shot well. Rohit is my pick at No.6. He can ride the bounce and play his strokes.
“Hardik is a talented boy but Rohit for me is a complete batsman.”
O the bowling front, India are expected to play just one spinner in all the three Test matches, given the nature of the South African pitches and it is indeed going to be interesting to see as to who gets the nod- Ravichandran Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja.
But Harbhajan pitched for Ashwin to be a part of the playing XI, if he is fit.
“If Ashwin is still not an automatic pick after 300 wickets then when?” he questioned.
The seasoned off-spinner, further refused to admit that off-spinners would be highly effective against a team full of left-handers. He also said that the pitches in South Africa would test the patience of the spinners as they don’t have much purchase on it for them.
“The South African pitches will test patience of spinners as there won’t be much purchase like the sub-continent tracks where the ball will turn and jump from Day 1. That’s where skill comes into play as one has got to be patient,” he said.
However, the, ‘Turbunator’ said that India have what it takes to beat South Africa in their own backyard.
“It’s a confident team and it’s always good to win matches before any overseas tour. Any team that travels overseas loves to believe that it is going there to win the series. The Indian team is no different. We have a good batting line-up and a quality pace attack,” Harbhajan signed off saying.