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Harbhajan bemused by NZ methods

Ashish Shukla | September01, 2003 17:08 IST

Ace off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is bemused at the length New Zealand are going to ensure they win against India in the forthcoming Test series in October.

"I am amused at their preparation. They will be simulating noise and din in the practice sessions, but what about the presence of a lakh of supporters treading on your heels and thousands of hands reaching out to touch you," commented 'Bhajji', who is back in Jalandhar for a four-day break before rejoining the preparatory camp in Bangalore on Tuesday.

New Zealand's interim coach Ashley Ross is planning unique methods to prepare his team for a task it has never ever achieved before in its seven visits to Indian shores -- winning a Test series.

Ross, for instance, is putting dirt in front of Craig McMillan just about the time he's to face a bowler. Similarly, as a bowler is poised to start his run-up, team-mates are asked to cross his path. Batsmen also compulsorily have to wear headphones inside their helmets where simulated noise of crowds is relayed. All this to ensure cricketers retain their poise and focus when put under stress.

"I am not sure if such simulated training is going to be a help. You mean to say if we tour Australia we need to have a beer can in our hands all the time?" reacted Harbhajan in his own inimitable style.

Positive at all times, Harbhajan has put his injury worries behind, as well as the fact he was strangely ignored by the Board of Control for Cricket in India for the Arjuna Award.

"I am feeling fresh and can't wait for the season to start. As for Arjuna Awards, I do not hanker a great deal. Veeru (Virender Sehwag) has made rapid strides and when he received the coveted award, I was extremely happy for him."

The Board strangely recommended only Sehwag for the honours even though associations of other disciplines, such as athletics, swimming and wrestling, managed to wrest more than one Arjuna Award for their sportsmen.

"We had recommended Harbhajan's name alongside VVS Laxman last year. But the government chose to award only one candidate. So we thought it's better we forward only one cricketer rather than invite a rejection," commented board secretary S.K. Nair on phone from Thiruvanantapuram.

Harbhajan, since his second innings for India at the start of 2001, has been one of the top two wicket-takers of the world for two seasons in a row. Besides, he is the only Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in Test cricket when he performed the feat against World champions Australia at Eden Gardens in Kolkata in 2001.

Harbhajan, who had his first look at trainer Gregory Allen King in the initial camp of a fortnight in Bangalore earlier this month, compared him favourably with the much-liked Adrian Le Roux.

"He seems to have an academic bend of mind -- more than I would say Le Roux. The latter, in contrast, used to personally train very hard with boys. King doesn't do it but then he could surprise us in the next camp," signed off Harbhajan in his distinctive impish style.

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