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Interview


Legendary Indian off spinner Erapalli Prasanna watched Harbhajan Singh create history on Sunday by becoming the first Indian to take a Test match hat trick in the course of a remarkable spell against Australia at Kolkata. CricInfo spoke to 'Pras' and the 60-year-old veteran was full of praise for Harbhajan's unique feat. Here are some excepts.

What did you feel about Harbhajan Singh's bowling today?

Pras: I really liked his bowling. The simple fact is that I think he had a lovely line and length. On a wicket like this, which was not a vicious turner, but assisted a little bit, I think what really paid dividends was his line and length. All along I've been impressing on all the youngsters that length is mandatory and line is optional. I think he was very strong in the basics today, therefore he succeeded. Listen

What about the three hat trick deliveries?

Pras: One could see that Ricky Ponting was playing an off spinner like most people do, coming into the ball. The ball didn't do much but went on straight. So he was caught leg before, playing on the back foot, trying to flick across the line. Gilchrist was also caught in two minds, he went back and was trapped again with the ball pitching on middle and leg. The third wicket was Shane Warne. From what I could see, it was a brilliant catch which resulted in his hat trick. In fact I took my 100th wicket when Venky took a similar catch off Paul Sheahan in Delhi. Listen

You have stressed the importance of intelligent field placings to support the bowlers. Do you think Ganguly got it right today?

Pras: No, not really. I don't see any reason why, when Steve Waugh was the lone battler, he was allowed the singles unnecessarily. I think when the going was good, you should have attacked him as well. After all there were only tailenders on the other side who could have got out at any time. Possibly we would have succeeded against Steve Waugh since he was not too confident as well. Listen

Harbhajan copped some stick early on but he came back very strongly. What did you make of it?

Pras: You saw Hayden getting out. The area where he was hitting in Mumbai was protected this time but still there were certain vacant places. I think if I were Harbhajan I would have still tried to bowl over the stumps to the lefthanders and having a predominantly onside field, possibly many people would have got out at forward short leg as well. Listen

Do you think Harbhajan has the complete bag of tricks for an off spinner? He turns the ball sharply and also has the one that goes straight through with the arm, doesn't he?

Pras: That is true. He has got the ball which straightens out and the ball that turns in but there's a little bit more to learn about variation. One did not see much of variation in flight, inviting them to hit and so on; he was still a bit faster than one would have normally expected him to bowl. There is definitely scope for improvement but one must admit and appreciate the sustaining attack of Harbhajan Singh today. The most important thing is that he had a perfect line and length. The wickets of Ponting, Mark Waugh and Gilchrist were all the result of a good length. That's exactly what one expects of a good bowler. Under the prevailing conditions I think he bowled well within himself and did exceedingly well. Listen

In fact since the wicket didn't offer much assistance, Harbhajan had to depend on his own skills to succeed. What do you feel?

Pras: That's true but the point is that in Mumbai, they got carried away with turn, while here they knew the ball is not turning and stuck to one line and length, which resulted in far more positive results. I always felt there's no point in having a turner if you don't know how to use it; you need to use some intelligence here. Harbhajan was trying to take his wickets with genuine skill and he succeeded in his attempt. Listen

How do you see the match going from here?

Pras: It's going to last out a stretch of five days definitely. At the most Australia may get about 310-320. If India have to win the game, one major factor is that we must score at a fast pace. We have the chance to bat the whole day tomorrow and should look to score at a reasonably fast rate, about 3-3.5 runs an over, and get a lead of 150. If we get out nearabout the Australian total, they may still get around 220 in their second innings. And because of their fielding and the presence of Shane Warne that might pose a lot of problems for us. Listen

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Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh

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