Sourav Ganguly: “Harbhajan needs to take it easy..not Ashwin’s fault that pitches are square turners”

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Sourav Ganguly: “Harbhajan needs to take it easy..not Ashwin’s fault that pitches are square turners”

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SportsCafe Desk

11/08/2016

Sourav Ganguly has urged Harbhajan Singh to ‘take it easy’ after his recent squabble with Ravichandran Ashwin on Twitter. The former Indian skipper has also stressed on the need to play on good wickets in order to educate the spinners on how to bowl on tracks that do not turn from day 1.

"He has got to take it easy, I think, Bhajji. He has been a champion for India. He has just got to move ahead. I know some of the pitches are square turners. That's not Ashwin's fault, though. He has probably got those pitches to bowl on, and he has bowled on them. I think Harbhajan is a great bowler, a great servant for Indian cricket, and he should enjoy the cricket and leave it at that. I know some of the pitches - against South Africa he would probably have got 40 wickets in that series - but even if he didn't get those pitches in his career it doesn't make him a lesser bowler than anybody," Ganguly said in an interview with ESPNcricinfo.

The CAB president has emphasized on the importance of India playing on good wickets at home. He believes that in order to succeed overseas, the likes of Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja need to learn to bowl on wickets which will not be assisting them in the opening two days of a Test match.

"I think the wickets are going to be good. And India should be playing on good pitches. I firmly believe they will continue to be unbeatable at home. But if you want to be a good bowling unit overseas, where your spinners come into play and win you Test matches, Ashwin and [Ravindra] Jadeja will have to learn bowling on good first-day, second-day pitches, where there is no turn, where you have got to bowl the right line and right length. And on day four, day five, the game will change very quickly in these conditions," Ganguly added.

Ganguly has praised Ashwin for how he has improved on his record overseas and feels that the English batsmen will find it hard to deal with him in the series. He said, "There was never a doubt about him as a bowler in these conditions. If you look at his record in the first 12-13 Test matches in the subcontinent, he has got 100 wickets. There is always a question mark on how he bowled in England and Australia and South Africa. And there's definitely an improvement on that. He has definitely got better in those conditions.

"He has continued to thrive on these turning pitches. I don't think it is that difficult bowling on these turning pitches. You see Jadeja, his record home and away is like chalk and cheese. Ashwin will be very, very dangerous in this squad. Jadeja as well. Pitches turning. Fast. Hitting the rough and turning it away. He will be very, very hard to get away. So England will have to bat very well in the first innings. Toss will be crucial. They will be looking to win the toss and bat first. Lots of things will affect how this series goes but Ashwin is going to be a huge threat."

Ganguly, who was instrumental in the appointment of Anil Kumble as the coach of the national team, has expressed his admiration for the two men who are at the helm of the Indian Test team at the moment—Virat Kohli and Kumble. Dada, however, feels that their real test lies ahead.

"I sit on my sofa and switch on my TV to watch Virat Kohli.

"He [Kumble] has been brilliant but he has played a lot of Test matches at home. And he is going to play about nine Test matches at home in the next six months, so I maintain as I maintained with other coaches that India will continue to beat teams in these conditions. But just like everyone, just like I asked of MS Dhoni whether he had the ability to win Test matches overseas, the same question remains for Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble.

"Whether they can get together and get India going in overseas conditions. Because that is what is going to happen after these nine Test matches. We are going to go away to England, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand. And they will be tested. So for them and for me the real judgement will come once they complete that full circle. At the present moment, I don't think they have been tested yet," he explained.

Ganguly has predicted that Kohli is likely to opt for four frontline bowlers in the opening Test with Ishant Sharma back in the fold.

"If I go by the New Zealand Test series, I think he [Kumble] is happy with four bowlers. He knows in these conditions the spinners are capable of picking up 20 wickets, when the ball turns square. I just get a feeling that he will go in with four bowlers. And that will be Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. If he goes in with three spinners at some stage - and that will only happen if he is under pressure, if he hasn't won the first Test in Rajkot, or of the wicket is Vizag is a minefield as we saw in the one-day game [against New Zealand] - maybe then he could come and have a third spinner.

"Him going with three spinners [at the outset], I am not too sure. Because he will wait for the ball to reverse. Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav have been brilliant at that. Ishant Sharma is back, so he will probably get a go ahead of Umesh Yadav. So I see him going with Ishant and Shami, and Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin," Ganguly said.

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