bhajji-ashwin

Not all was well in Indian cricket when they clean swept New Zealand 3-0 to win the Test series and extend their lead as the No.1 Test side. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin bagged his seventh Man-of the-Series award, claiming a total of 27 wickets from 3 Tests. The wickets that India have played in recent times especially the series against South Africa in 2015 has earned the ire of visitors and several media pundits as apparently the surfaces have been too spin friendly. The surfaces used during the India-New Zealand series were more sporting but veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who has been out of Test contention expressed his opinion on them. This created a controversy which Harbhajan though a tweet managed to douse off.

Harbhajan had then tweeted, “Only 2 in my 103 tests.. Kumble and my test wicket count would have been something else if we got wickets like last 4 years we playing on.” Harbhajan, who has 417 wickets from 103 Tests, feels his and Indian coach Anil Kumble’s wickets tally would have have gone up significantly had they played on such spin-friendly tracks. This implies that his fellow off-spinner and chief competitor Ashwin, who has been notching up records, has been bowling in helpful conditions. The following tweet did not go well with the fans and Harbhajan was pilloried in social media for the same.

In the press conference after the Indore Test, even Indian captain Virat Kohli was not pleased when he came to know about Harbhajan’s thought. “Even if it is a turning pitch, you have to bowl well. Spin is just not something to happen only off the pitch. It depends on how many revs (revolutions) you give to the ball and the use of the shoulder. When we lost to New Zealand in the World Cup, I quite clearly remember, suddenly their spinners were quality bowlers and we were found out! I don’t see anyone talking about it now,” said a visibly displeased Kohli.

He went on to add, “The same (New Zealand) spinners had played (in this series). Why did not they pick up wickets? It is as simple as that. Our fast bowlers (also) picked up wickets everywhere. Give a guy a cement track to bat on. He should have a mindset to do so. It’s as simple as that. That’s all I am going to sum up.”

Also highlighting on skills more than conditions, Kohli emphasised, “We believe in our skill and not believe in creating conditions or atmosphere which might suit us partially.” Ashwin, who recently became the fastest Indian to 200 Test wickets and first Indian to be awarded seven Man of the Series awards, is clearly not happy with the “unhealthy banter.” A good communicator and known to express himself, Ashwin expressed his respect for Harbhajan and disappointment through a tweet, “@harbhajan_singh has been an inspiration nd I started bowling off spin only after seeing the 2001 series. This banter going on is unhealthy.”

A fan was quick to pounce on the 30-year-old spinner, who has apparently liked a hate tweet on Harbhajan but Ashwin immediately cleared the air.

Harbhajan, 36, showed maturity and was quick to clear the misunderstanding and replied to the champion off-spinner, “Dear got nothing against you. For some reasons my words are misconstrued. Wish you nothing but the best. Keep the flag high! God bless.”

Ashwin with 220 wickets from only 39 Tests is rapidly racing towards Harbhajan’s tally. Both bowlers have been exceptional match winners for India and enjoy a massive fan following. In Ashwin’s absence, Harbhajan is still India’s go to off-spinner and good it has ended with a truce.