'Captaincy issue no distraction for Team India'

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2007, 3:35 [IST]
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Mohali: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh today dismissed the view that the impending decision regarding the Test captain or team selection for next three ODI's is having an adverse impact on the players, saying, ''We are all focused and looking for the second match against Pakistan here on Thursday.''

He however lavished praise on M S Dhoni saying he a very good captain. ''He (Dhoni) backs his players. He is a good leader, a great player who knows how to get the best out of his colleagues and team mates.''

The spinner was however, categorical in his assertion that the players are just concentrating on the game and are not thinking about the Test captain or team selection. ''We are concentrating on cricket. We are playing for India, it is not going to make any difference for the players as who is to be the captain of the test side.''

Talking to reporters on the eve of the day and night game, Harbhajan said, ''It is great to go into the match with one victory behind you. It is a great way to start the series.''

Harbhajan described Pakistan as a very talented side which should not be underestimated. ''It is not a very new look side and is the same team, without Inzamam Ul Haq, which has been playing off late.'' According to him, it has become a fashion to label any team which loses one or two matches as a weak side. ''I think Pakistan is a very good side and can bounce back in the series,'' he asserted.

''We really played well in Guwahati and deserved to win and I hope we will continue this trend. It was an all round team display in the first game,'' he added.

Harbhajan was of the view that not much should be made of the 'dew factor'. ''It is for both the teams and both will have to cope with it,'' he said.

''I don't think that much should also be made of the pitch, whether it is green or flat one has to play and play well,'' he said, adding, ''In case dew is going to be a factor then I hope we win the toss tomorrow and the decide accordingly.''

Asked if the change of ball after 35 overs has helped the bowlers especially the spinners, Harbhajan replied, ''Well it all depends on the situations. If by that time you have got four or five wickets then the new batsman may find it tough to hit but if only one or two wickets have gone and batsmen are set then they find it easy to hit the ball (which usually is harder).'' He agreed that having Murli Kartik from the other end is a great help, ''Yes Murli has been bowling well and he has been a great help, I enjoy bowling with him, we are bowling in tandem.

It is nice to have him on the other end.'' Harbhajan said he was enjoying his role (as a main spin bowler) ''I am happy that I did well for India in twenty 20 but now I am concentrating on the 50 over format'' and added, ''One has to adopt to the situation. One has to be smart enough to bowl according to the situation and the track.

A bowler has to understand team's requirement.'' He was hopeful that the second match will provide enough excitement, ''Track here has lot of bounce and seam, while Guwahati was a bit slow.'' ''One has to adopt to all kinds of conditions because that is the demand of present day International cricket.'' He refused to name the final eleven for tomorrow's match saying, ''I don't know who will play or who will not. All 15 (players) are match winners. I have no idea about the final eleven but one thing I know is that all of us are excited about the game and are looking forward to play postively.''

The Squads:

India: Mahendra Dhoni (capt, wk), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Saurav Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Rudra Pratap Singh, Zaheer Khan, Rohit Sharma and Sreesanth.

Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (captain), Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal (wk), Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul Haq, Umar Gul, Rao Iftikhar, Abdur Rehman, Shoaib Akhtar, Yasir Hameed, Sohail Tanvir and Fawad Alam.


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