Mendis no longer a threat to India: Harbhajan

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis is no longer a threat for Indian batsmen who have now learnt to tackle the mystery bowler, Harbhajan Singh said.

Updated: January 29, 2009 14:45 IST
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Sri Lankan spinner Ajantha Mendis is no longer a threat for Indian batsmen who have now learnt to tackle the mystery bowler, star off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said on Thursday.

"During last year's tour Mendis was no doubt a real threat to India. But the Indian batsmen have now learnt to tackle him, which was proved in yesterday's first match of the ODI series where Mendis proved a flop," said Harbhajan, who missed out on the tour of the Emerald Islands owing to a hamstring injury.

"Our team can handle anyone under any conditions and it was a great work done by captain (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni and the bowlers, who restricted Sri Lanka to 246 despite Jayasuriya's century," Harbhajan said, appreciating the contributions made by Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina in the match, besides Dhoni himself.

The star off-spinner felt Wednesday's victory in Dambulla was a major step as Dhoni's men attempt to become the number one team in the world.

The first job for India would be to win the ODI series in Sri Lanka and then defeat New Zealand at their own backyard.

However, he conceded defeating Sri Lanka in the second ODI at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo will be a challenging task for Dhoni's team.

"Sri Lanka have a very good winning record on that ground where they have bounced back from seemingly difficult position in the past," said Harbhajan, who was here as chief guest in a cricket tournament organised in the memory of his late father Sardev Singh.

On the possible induction of England players in the second edition of the Indian Premier League, Harbhajan said "the inclusion of England players like those of Andrew Flintoff in the IPL will definitely make the tournament more competitive and tough."

He, however, chose to be diplomatic when it came to the question of Pakistan players missing out on the IPL.

"It is up to the government to decide whether to allow Pakistan cricketers in the IPL," said the offie.

Harbhajan felt it was too early to take a call on the International Cricket Council's decision to reduce the number of appeals from three to two in the umpire referral system.

"Let us see how it works during matches. It is too early to comment on this. During the India-Sri Lanka series last year, the ICC rule wherein a team can refer controversial decisions to the third umpire three times in a match got very positive response from the players," Harbhajan said.

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