Harbhajan happy to slip into Kumble's shoes

Published: Sunday, August 17, 2003, 21:48 [IST]
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Bangalore: Spinner Harbhajan Singh said on Sunday he is happy to take over from veteran Anil Kumble as India's strike spin bowler, and vowed to win matches for the country. "Obviously, Kumble is a great bowler and has been winning matches for a long time. Somebody has to come and take his spot. So, I am happy I am doing that," he told reporters here. "Whenever I go, I just try to take wickets. As a bowler, you have to take wickets for your country. Otherwise, it is of no use going there and taking two or three wickets," he said.

Harbhajan, who is among the 36 Indian team probables attending the conditioning camp for the season ahead, added, "I have to go there and win matches for the country. That's more important than taking two or five wickets." He said whenever he bowled alongside the 32-year-old Kumble, who has so far claimed 349 Test wickets in his 13-year long career, he considered the latter as the senior bowler, and believed that he has done a good job with Kumble.

Asked about his injured spinning finger, Harbhajan said it's okay and better and he has been doing some physiotherapy exercises. The Australian doctor he consulted suggested to him to take an injection and do those exercises and felt that it would be good if he pulled on for one or two years without undergoing surgery. "If surgery is required, I will undergo surgery," he said. Incidentally, the same doctor had treated Shane Warne also. On India's coming tour of Australia, Harbhajan said if Sourav Ganguly and his men played to their potential, they can really beat Australians though conditions will be different. "If we really play to our potential, we can really win the series against Australia."

Though the tour of Australia would be a tough one, India is a good side capable of beating Australians. Asked if he saw any role for spinners on fast tracks of Australia, Harbhajan shot back, "When Shane Warne can take wickets, why not we?" The pitches would start turning on the third and fourth day of Test matches, he said. He said the ongoing fitness-specific camp is bound to do a world of good for the players for the all-important of tour of Australia where India would play four Tests and also participate in a tri-nation tournament. "We have to be very fit when we play Australia," he said, adding, "the camp is extremely important". According to him, the Indian team was not as fit as Australia and South Africa in the past but the recent emphasis on fitness has made a lot of difference as reflected in good performances turned in by the Indian side.

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