Wellington/Nagpur, Nov.18: New Zealand's cricketers may have previously regarded Harbhajan Singh as little more than nuisance value with the bat, but the latter has now emerged as a genuine all round threat with two back to back Test hundreds as the tourists look to do the unthinkable -- win a test series in India for the first time. The series is currently locked at 0-0 with the world's top test nation ahead of the series decider starting on Saturday.
Harbhajan began the series with a Test average of 18. Nothing prepared captain Daniel Vettori and his colleagues for what has unfolded since. The Indian off spinner has peeled off successive scores of 69, 115 and 111 not out, and taken some wickets too. This is the first time a No 8 batsman has made two tons at test level, and both were counter-attacking affairs that stopped the Kiwis in their tracks. Now, with just two days before the series goes on the line, Vettori admits his side is scratching their heads over Harbhajan's unexpected influence with the bat.
"We do have plans for him, but they are just not working out," Vettori said before the tourists had their first look at Vidarbha Cricket Association, the venue for the third test, today.
"Particularly him and (Virender) Sehwag have really put us on the back foot. Sehwag is obviously a key, but if we manage to get through that Indian middle order again we have to be ready for Harbhajan. We will have to go hard at him because he''s played so well in the first two test matches," stuff.co.nz quoted Vettori, as saying further.
Harbhajan's series aggregate of 295 runs at an average of 147.5 has come off just 326 deliveries, containing an over weight portion of boundaries, both along the carpet and aerially.