Former India offspinner Erapalli Prasanna has questioned the effectiveness of his contemporary counterpart Harbhajan Singh, who has endured a poor run of form and fitness in recent times. Harbhajan has 406 Test wickets, the highest among all bowlers currently playing the game, but has managed only 51 in his last 15 matches, a period in which he has picked up a solitary five-wicket haul. Prasanna attributes Harbhajan's woes to poor technique.
"He [Harbhajan] is delivering from a very chest-on position," Prasanna told the Hindu. "Consequently, his length has suffered. He has got his length right only 25 to 30% of the time. If your length is awry, your line is affected as well. The fact that his basics are not strong, he does not pivot or get his body behind his action, is not helping matters either. There is very little follow-through."
Prasanna also believes that Harbhajan's recent reluctance to use the doosra has made it easier for batsmen to handle him. "I think he is conscious of his action coming under a cloud when he bowls the doosra," Prasanna said. "This has affected him psychologically. He has not employed this delivery much in recent times and has become predictable."
Harbhajan's struggles came to a head in India's ongoing tour of England. He managed combined figures of 2 for 287 in the first two Tests, before a stomach strain ended his tour. His replacement, legspinner Amit Mishra, fared only marginally better and was dogged by a tendency to bowl no-balls, which left Prasanna appalled.
Prasanna played 49 Tests for India, picking up 189 wickets, of which 116 came in 23 Tests under Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, whose captaincy he was full of praise for. "Tiger Pataudi, with all his intelligence, was different [from captains of this age]," Prasanna said. "There is no aggressive skipper like him around now."
R Ashwin, the Tamil Nadu offspinner who has succeeded in the IPL, has emerged as a future contender for the spinner's berth, but Prasanna said he wanted to see him play the longest format before passing a judgement on him.