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Harbhajan rallies behind Murali in ~~doosra~~ row

Published: Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
 
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New Delhi:Rallying behind fellow off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, Harbhajan Singh has said it was unfair to question the Sri Lankan now when he has perched himself as the highest Test wicket-taker of the world.

"It's not fair to question a bowler after he has played for so many years and taken over 520 wickets. If you have a problem, question him at the start of his career," Harbhajan Singh said in a programme for ESPN-Star Sports.

"It is difficult to take 500 wickets even in 'gulli' cricket. Murali has taken so many in Test cricket and even then, he has to face such allegations. I don't think it is right," said the bowler, who has missed international action for the past five months due to a finger injury.Murali's 'doosra' -- an off spinnner's wrong 'un -- has been banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Admitting that it will be like starting a "new innings" when he starts playing for the Indian team, Harbhajan said he owed a lot to skipper Sourav Ganguly who has stood by him in the most difficult periods.

"Sourav stood by me when I was struggling. I owe a great deal to him for standing by me at the most important time. He is the one who made it possible for me to return to the team. I can't express my gratitude for him in words."

Explaining the reasons behind sustaining an injury quite early in his career, Harbhajan said, "though I have not played so many matches in international cricket, I mostly bowl long spells.

"(Also) I started bowling at the age of 13 and used to spend hours practising by myself. So the actual stress on my fingers has been much greater that what my number of years in international cricket would suggest.

"Also my grip is different from a normal spinners' grip. I hold the ball in three fingers only and I have a strong grip on the ball. This gives greater bounce to my deliveries and also that little extra tweak. But it is also more strenuous for my fingers."

The 'Turbanator' said although he was initially scared that his injury could be career threatening, he was now looking to make a successful comeback.

"I am fine now. I am regaining the flexibility in my fingers and I am bowling well as I have rested enough. Making a comeback does not bother me. I know I have performed and delivered for the team earlier and I am confident of my seniors' trust in me that I can deliver again.

"It will be like a new innings when I make my comeback. I will have to perform and prove myself again. Great bowlers like Sir Richard Hadlee, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble have made successful comebacks from serious injuries.

"My injury was small compared to theirs and with so many well wishers I am sure I will be able to make a successful comeback."

The Jalandhar based bowler would also turn up for a County side soon to "get some match practice before the start of the next series."

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