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Turbanator out to put Australia in a spin
February 15, 2003 11:16 IST
Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh fired a warning to World champions Australia on Friday, saying he has improved considerably since tormenting Saturday's World Cup opponents two years ago.
"I am a much better bowler and more experienced," Harbhajan told Reuters as he prepared for India's second Group A match at the Super Sport Park.
"I am now able to adjust to conditions better, depending on the situation the game is in," said the player nicknamed "turbanator" for his exploits in the home Test series against Australia in 2001.
The 22-year-old Harbhajan captured 32 wickets to propel India to a 2-1 series victory, dismissing Australia's one-day captain Ricky Ponting in each of his five Test innings.
Australia start clear favourites on Saturday, having beaten Pakistan by 82 runs in their opening match, and face an Indian side whose batting confidence has been badly shaken by a string of failures.
But Australia are expected to play four specialist left-handers in Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Darren Lehmann and Michael Bevan, increasing Harbhajan's chances of success because his natural delivery will spin away from their bats.
Harbhajan, though, is not targeting any particular batsmen.
"I am not going into the match with any special strategy for particular batsmen," he said. "I am confident of my bowling and I have been bowling well for some time."
Captain Sourav Ganguly has said Harbhajan and leg-spinner Anil Kumble will be his main weapons to try and exploit Australia's perceived weakness against spin.
"We realise it is a big game," Harbhajan said. "It is a great opportunity for us to put Australia under pressure."
Harbhajan has in the past lost his bowling rhythm whenever he fails to strike early, but the bowler said his temperament has improved.
The off-spinner looked sharp during India's 68-run victory over the Netherlands on Wednesday, returning figures of 1-20 from 10 overs.
He is the only Indian bowler to take a Test hat-trick, in the second match of the series in Kolkata against Australia in 2001 which spurred India to a series levelling win after they had been asked to follow-on.
He also will have fond memories of the Super Sport Park ground, where his three-wicket haul was vital in helping India scoring their lone victory over South Africa in a one-day tournament in 2001.
Another match-winning performance on Saturday could be the inspiration India need to ignite their World Cup challenge.
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