Mellowing Singh can still carry a tune


Staff member
Dubai: Spinners, they say, get better with age.

However, it seems to be different with Harbhajan Singh who seems to be developing a knack of saving matches with the bat in recent years.

During the first day of India's first Test against the West Indies at Kingston, Jamaica, Singh rescued India from a disastrous 85 for six to a respectable 246 runs through a fighting knock of 70 runs. It took him 93 Test matches to register 2,000 runs and interestingly, 1,000 runs of them were scored on foreign soil.

When Singh entered the international arena, Indian cricket believed that bowlers, especially spinners, need not be batsmen. Singh merely followed India's famous spin quartet who never ever bothered to improve their batting.

In fact, B. S. Chandrasekhar and Erapali Prasanna never batted during net practice and like all spinners, they believed that it is not their job to score runs. So often India's tail never wagged and used to vanish in a flash.

During the Test series against Australia at home last year, this reporter happened to observe Singh's batting closely from behind the nets. Some of the shots he played in the nets were as good and perfect as some of the leading batsmen. When asked about this, Singh's answer was: "All I need to do is be more sensible when I play the shots in the middle."

Lazy strokes

Singh often walked out to bat as if he is not interested in scoring runs. Some of his strokes even looked lazy. However at the nets, he played his defence perfectly, head over the ball, but often in the middle he just offered a dead bat.

It all changed during the series against New Zealand in Ahmedabad last year, when he scored his first century. He followed it up with another century in the very next Test in Hyderabad. For a batsman who can score back-to-back centuries in Tests, it is shocking that he hasn't hit a half century in one-day cricket.

The only factor that one can pinpoint as his drawback is his lack of patience. He is a bundle of energy on and off the field and batting requires patience and control over emotions.

Singh is also focused on his bowling that he rarely tries to correct his batting defects like the way he constantly works at his bowling in consultation with the coach. "I never dreamt I would become a Man of the Match for my batting," he said after scoring his first Test century.