No need to blame wicket: Harbhajan

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Harbhajan Singh says the batsmen didn't apply themselves in the first innings and casual shots brought about their downfall.

Updated: April 15, 2008 12:24 IST
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Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said despite the green-top, the Motera wicket was not to be blamed for the hosts crumbling for a paltry 76 in the first innings and felt it was for the batsmen to apply themselves.

"It was one of the bad days I have seen in my 10 years (of international cricket). I won't blame the wicket, which was a green-top for our performance. We did not apply ourselves and played some casual shots," Harbhajan told reporters after the opening day's play.

"The important thing now is to try and get back into the game by taking a couple of early wickets tomorrow morning to get into the tail," said the Punjab bowler.

Harbhajan, who took a creditable three-wicket haul in the South African reply of 223 for four, however, said as the home team a track helping spinners was expected by the Indian players whenever they play in their own backyard.

"The last time we came here and played against Sri Lanka the wicket had red soil. Now things have changed and is changing everywhere in India (vis-a-vis wickets) much to our disadvantage. I think as home team we should play to our strength which is spin. Most of our victories in India have come about through spin bowling," he said.

Asked why the team chose to bat first on winning toss, the off spinner said things would have eased out after one and a half hours.

"It was a good wicket to bat on after one and a half hours. The ball was hardly turning," he said.

Harbhajan felt the team could still turn around the game like it had done at the Eden Gardens in that unforgettable series in 2001.

"We will have to play good cricket from now on. We did so against Australia in Kolkata and if we can do so again it will be great," he said.

The Indian offie also praised the Proteas' pace bowling trio of Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel for decimating the strong Indian line up for the second-lowest total on home soil.

"They bowled very well. They pitched the ball in the right areas on the track," he said.

Harbhajan emphasised that the team did want to play with a five-man bowling attack going into the game.

"We were very much sure of the sort of team we wanted to play here. We wanted to go in with five bowlers," he said to explain the decision of the think-tank to include Irfan Pathan and not Yuvraj Singh in the side as replacement for the injured and absent Sachin Tendulkar.

He also defended the team's pacers, who could do little as compared to their SA counterparts on the same track.

"There's nothing wrong with our fast bowlers. They have been getting wickets for us. Hopefully, they will do so tomorrow," he said.

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