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Harbhajan raring to go
June 11, 2003 15:00 IST
Having recovered fully from a niggling injury, ace Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh wants to use his curtailed stint in Lancashire to get back into form for India's forthcoming engagements against New Zealand and Australia towards the end of the year.
"I cannot wait to get going after being out of action for two months," said Harbhajan, on the eve of his departure for England.
Harbhajan is expected to join the Lancashire on Friday.
Harbhajan missed the start of Lancashire's county campaign and former West Indies skipper Carl Hooper stepped in as a replacement.
Hooper has made a fine impression with both bat and ball in the three matches he turned out for Lancashire.
"I have followed Hooper's exploits closely," said Harbhajan. "Now it is my turn to pull in my weight for the county."
Harbhajan has kept a close eye on action in the county circuit, and has noticed the stuttering start of his state-mate Yuvraj Singh (Yorkshire), who could well be facing up to the off-spinner's bowling to in the Roses match between the two counties in the National Cricket League in Manchester on June 20.
Harbhajan was troubled by an injury in his right hand, particularly the big gap between his thumb and index finger which he uses in his bowling style to impart uncommon spin to his deliveries.
He went over to South Africa and was relieved when it was learnt that he did not need surgery.
"I was relieved they did not recommend an operation. They had a close look at the hand and felt it was just a case of over-use.
"They have prescribed a set of exercises including instruments to help in strengthening the concerned area and it is responding very well," said the young Sikh.
Harbhajan has bowled relentlessly for India since his second comeback against the Australians in a home series in 2001-2002, featuring in 25 of the 29 Tests, and 64 of the 80 one-day internationals the country played during this period.
He has played 33 Tests and picked 144 wickets at 26.60 apiece, with 11 five-wicket hauls and two 10-wicket hauls. He has also played 77 one-day internationals for India, picking 100 wickets at 28.29.
Harbhajan does not want to experiment during his stint for Lancashire and only wishes to get his rhythm back as quickly as possible.
"I am not sure how many county matches still remain in Lancashire's campaign. Also, since I have not played the length of my contract, my fee would stand reduced."
Harbhajan follows in the footstep of India skipper Sourav Ganguly, who played for Lancashire in the summer of 2000.
Former India stumper Faroukh Engineer is the only other Indian to have turned out for the county in the past.
Lancashire county chief Jim Cumbes though has no doubt Harbhajan will prove to be a massive hit with the local community which has a sizeable Asian presence.
Mike Watkinson, Lancashire's cricket manager, is relieved Harbhajan will finally join the squad.
"We are delighted to have secured the services of one of the world's leading spin bowlers. Hopefully, his talents will be the perfect foil for our crop of very promising young pace bowlers."