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Harbhajan ready to lead spin attack in NZ

February 04, 2009 17:55 IST

Recuperating from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the Sri Lanka tour, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said he is regaining full fitness and is looking forward to spearhead India's spin attack in New Zealand.

"My injury has healed considerably. I have resumed training and bowling at nets. I still have enough time before that and I expect to play a part in the New Zealand series," said the spinner, who has recently been conferred with the Padma Shri award.

Following veteran leg-spinner Anil Kumble's retirement, Harbhajan is the senior most bowler in the slow bowling department and the spinner said he was ready to shoulder the responsibility.

"Whenever I played, I have always taken responsibility. Now, after Anilbhai's retirement, I know I have to take the responsibility in New Zealand and I am ready for that," he added.

India will leave for New Zealand later this month for a full series there.

Despite Harbhajan's absence, the Indian team has clinched the five-match ODI series in Sri Lanka with their unassailable 3-0 lead over the hosts and Harbhajan felt the batsmen had sorted out Sri Lanka's enigmatic spinner Ajantha Mendis.

"The success in Sri Lanka is a result of team effort. We played great cricket there, especially the batsmen are tackling Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis pretty well.

"During last year's tour, Mendis was no doubt a real threat to India but our batsmen have now sorted him out," Harbhajan said during a promotional event of a sports goods company in New Delhi.

He also heaped praise on young left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha for his impressive performance in the three matches played so far.

The 28-year-old spinner credited self-belief for the team's consistent show in recent times.

"The present team has self-belief which is the reason behind the team's success. Every player is ready to take challenges and knows how to deal with it. The team now has the self-belief to chase even 350 runs against any side," he said.

Harbhajan also lauded Gary Kirsten, saying the coach played a major part in Team India's success.

"He (Kirsten) has a big role behind India's success. Under him, the dressing room environment has become positive. There is always a jovial atmosphere in the dressing room, even in tense situations. He shares a lot of suggestions and gives tips to each and every player," he said.

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