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England batted rather slow: Harbhajan

December 11, 2008 19:42 IST

Happy at restricting England to 229 for five on the opening day of the first cricket Test, ace spinner Harbhajan Singh on Thursday took a dig at the visitors saying they batted slowly and helped India's cause.

"They played rather slow. Nobody went after the bowling. If you played your shots, you could have got to around 300. Even in the last one day match they batted slowly," said the off-spinner who took two wickets for 67 runs on the opening day.

"The wicket is playing good and the toss has been a big advantage. We bowled really well and restricted England. They were not really looking to dominate.

"Rather, they were looking at picking singles and twos. If we had batted, we would have got 300 plus. They went into defensive mode and got only 63 runs in the first session. We would have at least collected 100 in the first session. We are really happy with the way we bowled today," he said.

The spinner expressed relief at getting back to the game after the Mumbai carnage and thanked England for returning for the Test series.

"What ever happened in Mumbai is very sad. It was great that England came back. Hats off to these guys. It is good to be back in action and nice on field. After the Mumbai incident, we were all tensed and scared but we cannot control these things," said Harbhajan adding that the presence of the commandos gave them a feeling of security.

"It is great to have the commandos. It gives us the feeling of safety. These commandos have done a great job in Mumbai," Harbhajan said.

Going into the tea break, England looked in control of the situation at 164 for one but thereafter they lost four wickets for an additional 65 runs. 

Asked whether India went into the final session with any specific plan, Harbhajan said, "We were looking to bowl in the right areas and play to our plan. They helped us by blocking balls and not going for shots.

"We knew last session things will start happening. We would have been happy to get (Andrew) Flintoff out. Anyhow the first session tomorrow will be crucial and if we get him out in the first session, it will be good for us."

He felt that the track will assist spin from the third day onwards but does not expect the England spinners to bother India's batsmen much.

"I expect the wicket to spin more from the third day onwards. The weather will be quite hard. They are not used to these conditions. Apart from Flintoff, none of the other bowlers will trouble us as much. We have quality batsmen in our ranks to tackle them. We have very good batsmen who have played against top spinners like Shane warne and Muttiah Muralitharan. It is not going to be difficult for us to play Monty Panesar", he said.

 "So, Panesar and other spinners have to work hard in these conditions and they are not a threat to us. But Flintoff can hit the deck hard and take wickets on any kind of wickets," Harbhajan said.

Harbhajan had a word of praise for fellow spinner Amit Mishra, who dismissed centurion Andrew Strauss.

"He is really doing well. We all need to support him. He has got all the variations. He will learn. I am taking responsibility as a senior player to guide both Mishra and Ojha," said the fiesty spinner.

He also appreciated the effort Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma were putting in with the old ball.

"Both Zaheer and Ishant have been working hard on reverse swing and their fitness. They are doing a great job for the side. Hats off to them. It is hard to bowl in these conditions," said Harbhajan.

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