SA spinner wants to follow in Harbhajan~~s path

Published: Tuesday, November 8, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Durban:Johan Botha, one of the three South African spinners selected for the tour of India, on Tuesday said he would try to follow in the footsteps of Harbhajan Singh.

The 23-year-old, who would be representing South Africa for the first time at senior level, said he had interacted with the 'Turbanator' during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.

"I spoke to Harbhajan when he was here during the World Cup in 2003, and I learned quite a bit from him. I have also watched him closely on television," Botha told Business Day newspaper.

"I have learned from him to bowl the doosra -basically an off-spinner's googly-and have tried to model my action on his as well," the youngster said.

Botha, who hails from Port Elizabeth, was a medium pacer before switching to spin bowling.

The South African touring party would leave for Mumbai on Friday to play five ODIs against India between November 16 and 28.

Botha said the tour would be demanding for him because Indian batsmen like to play spinners.

He was aware of top batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, all of whom had impressive home records.

"It is quite a challenge, going to India on my first trip for South Africa, I must admit. But I will try to ignore the pressure and try not to let it all get to me," he said.

He has three deliveries in his armoury-the doosra, a top spinner and the conventional off-spinner.

Botha has also received some input from fellow spinner Robin Peterson who has toured India previously.

"I have been to India before and this will be my second tour," Peterson said in an interview on South African national radio on Monday.

Peterson, Botha and Justin Ontong are the three spinners in the 14-man squad under captain Graeme Smith to take India on in the ODI series.

Peterson said despite the challenging conditions he was confident of making an impact. "I am very happy that the selectors have given me a chance and I will be going all out to prove my worth," he said.

Meanwhile, Smith said the 4-0 series win over New Zealand had made his team a formidable side but they would not be taking India for granted.

He was certain he had a team that would prove its worth in India.

"I am certain that Anil Kumble will get a recall, and they also have Harbhajan Singh and Murali Karthik. So Botha and Peterson with Justin Ontong will be a very good combination to fight back," he said.

"Its a great opportunity for the guys to show their skills in India. I believe even though we will be without Nicky Boje and Herschelle Gibbs, we have a good all-round team to take on India and win," Smith added.

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