Bhajji's web of spin on the wane

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> It won't be much of an understatement to say that Harbhajan Singh has been more useful with the bat down under than with the ball.

Updated: January 31, 2008 17:59 IST
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It won't be much of an understatement to say that Harbhajan Singh has been more useful with the bat down under than with the ball.

Even though he has taken eight wickets so far, his runs are what have helped India avoid late order collapses.

And with Virender Sehwag clearly the more impressive spinner on Day 4, there's no doubt that Bhajji's comeback trail in Tests could be under threat.

Bhajji in record books:
  • He averages 40.31 since 2006
  • Averages 29.50 from 1998 to 2006
  • Bhajji out of Test side for 17 months
  • He made comeback against Pakistan.
It isn't easy to tell just who the specialist spinner in the team is. It's a problem that Bhajji seems to have acquired over the past couple of years, which emerged during India's tour to the West Indies.

Following that tour, in spite of the 11 wickets he took, he found himself out of the Test side until the Pakistan tour to India in 2007.

In the last two years, Harbhajan has seen his form dip. Since 2006, Bhajji has taken 36 wickets in 10 Tests at 40.31 runs per wicket. Compare this to the earlier eight years of his Test career, 219 wickets in 52 Tests at an average of 29.50.

The contrast couldn't be clearer yet his teammates continue to stand by the Turbanator.

"He's bowled alright, more than a 1,000 runs have been scored on this wicket. So, he's bowled alright," said Irfan Pathan, member, Indian Cricket Team.

On Day four in Adelaide, Virender Sehwag seemed to be the spinner most likely to take a wicket. His agenda seemed simple. Toss the ball up and let the ball turn off the pitch. The very same tools Bhajji used when he was at his lethal best.

But experts seem to think that it wasn't Bhajji's craft that was letting him down, clearly evidence is the beauty he bowled to Stuart Clark, but rather in his head.

"He was below his best, he was definitely below his best. Something is playing on his mind, he was not the lively, bubbly self," said Sunil Gavaskar, Tests and 108 ODIs for India.

He certainly didn't have anything on his mind when he struck this audacious 63 in the first innings at Adelaide. And let's hope that the leather is just as kind to him, as the willow has been in recent times.

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