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Dale Steyn will not be big threat for India: Harbhajan Singh

By Pti
Dale Steyn of South Africa

New Delhi, December 25: South Africa seamer Dale Steyn will not be a big threat for India in the upcoming tour of South Africa as he's just returning from injury, feels senior spinner Harbhajan Singh.

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Steyn was out of competitive cricket for a year after dislocating his shoulder during a Test match against Australia last year.

"Dale Steyn is unarguably the best fast bowler in the world in the last 10 years. But coming back into international cricket (after injury) is not easy. A Test match against Zimbabwe will not exactly be an indicator of what he can do against India," Harbhajan said.

"Look at the Indian batting line up. We have so much quality. Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and others. This is perhaps among the best line-up in world cricket.

"For both Steyn and (Morne) Morkel, it will be a challenge to stop this line-up, especially when they themselves will need to get back into the groove (of playing the long format)," the 'Turbanator' assessed.

The lack of lateral movement in South Africa means that batsmen would only need to counter the bounce.

"The kookaburra ball, as everyone knows, will stop seaming after 20-odd overs. Plus it's only the bounce that needs to be taken care of," he said, giving India the edge in the away series.

Harbhajan also backed Rohit Sharma, an opener in the shorter formats of the game, for the No 6 position instead of Hardik Pandya.

"Rohit is a fabulous player. He's someone who plays the pull shot well and also plays the cut shot well. Rohit is my pick at No 6. He can ride the bounce and play his strokes," Harbhajan explained. "Hardik is a talented boy, but Rohit for me is a complete batsman."

Harbhajan did not want to read too much into India not playing a practice game in South Africa before the first Test match.

"It is a very team-specific decision. The team management must have put some serious thought while taking such a decision. Obviously if they don't have a practice game, possibly, the net bowlers who are going, will provide them with match simulation," he opined.

Backs Ashwin

Harbhajan (right) feels Ashwin should be fielded in the Playing XI against South Africa

Harbhajan added that he will be surprised if Ravichandran Ashwin, the fastest to reach 300 Test wickets, is not an automatic pick in the Indian Test XI in Africa.

India are expected to play only one spinner in the three Test matches against South Africa and it will be between Ashwin and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.

"If Ashwin is still not an automatic pick after 300 wickets, then when?" questioned Harbhajan. "The South African pitches will test patience of spinners as there won't be much purchase like the sub-continent tracks where the ball will turn and jump from Day 1. That's where skill comes into play as one has got to be patient," Harbhajan added.

The seasoned off-spinner believes that India has the team to beat South Africa in their own den. "It's a confident team and it's always good to win matches before any overseas tour. Any team that travels overseas loves to believe that it is going there to win the series. The Indian team is no different. We have a good batting line-up and a quality pace attack," he signed off.

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Story first published: Monday, December 25, 2017, 18:24 [IST]
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