Ganguly regrets not playing Harbhajan in 1st tie

Published: Thursday, October 11, 2001, 22:50 [IST]
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Centurion Park: The success of Harbhajan Singh in India's 41-run win against South Africa in a triangular One-day series match on Wednesday night has forced captain Saurav Ganguly to admit that keeping the off spinner out of the first match last week was a mistake.

"Probably it was a mistake not to play Harbhajan at Wanderers," Ganguly said after the match with Harbhajan within earshot. At Wanderers last Friday, India failed to defend a record total of 279 in the absence of Harbhajan. And the off spinner proved his worth on Wednesday night, claiming three for 27, to play a major role in India's first victory in the tournament. Ganguly appreciated that the disappointment of being left out in the first match had not affected the bowler at all. "He has done enough and doesn't need anyone's confidence to keep himself going. He bowled fantastically well," the captain said. Harbhajan himself was quite modest in his hour of glory and said his feat would have amounted to little if India had not won the match. But more importantly, he said, he had showed that he could be effective on seamer friendly pitches as well. "I got a good chance to prove I can bowl well on seaming tracks as well. I would be happy if I can keep up this form," Harbhajan said and admitted it was his best performance in One-day Internationals to date. Despite the victory, both Ganguly and coach John Wright were worried over the batsmen's continued failure to capitalise in the slog overs. "Quite a few of our batsmen got in and couldn't carry on. It is one aspect we have to work on," Ganguly said. "If a batsman gets set, he must score big runs. It would serve him as well as the team. It was a crime we wasted the last seven deliveries and couldn't bat the full 50 overs." Almost all the top order batsmen, including Ganguly, got good starts yesterday but, except for Rahul Dravid who top scored with 54, none could convert them into big knocks. "We wasted a good opportunity of 250-plus total. We have to learn from it. We are putting ourselves in a position in which if we bat well, we can score big runs," Wright said. Wright said the team had worked hard on its ground fielding and it was finally showing results. He said he was very pleased to see Virender Sehwag diving to his full at the boundary to save what looked like a certain four for Jonty Rhodes. "Next ball Rhodes was out. These are little things, which change a match though you never know if it made the difference. "It is a good confidence booster for us, especially for the coming matches of the series. I think we are getting a little more fluent in the field," the coach said. Extras:
India ends 9-year drought on SA soil
Fear of censure stops Ganguly in track

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