India will play the final Test at Wanderers in Johannesburg. (Source: BCCI)
Harbhajan Singh said that it is times like these that the Indian team needs to be supported the most. Despite their extraordinary succcess in all formats of the game at home, India could not shake off the tag of being poor travellers and have surrendered an unassailable 2-0 lead to South Africa in the ongoing Test series. “Everybody wants to improve. Let’s support the team in this hour. We have not played as well as we would have expected,” he is quoted as saying by PTI, “Maybe next time. This is a great learning curve. Hopefully we will bounce back strongly. They need to back each other.”
The Indian team welcomed by a pitch that was tailor made for pacers in the first Test at Newlands. While the touring party’s pacers did set the ball rolling, the batsmen were swept away by Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada. India went on to lost that match by 72 runs. Despite the pitch at Centurion being more akin to conditions found in the subcontinent and Virat Kohli’s 153 in India’s first innings, the visitors lost the match by 135 runs. The batsmen were found wanting against bounce and short deliveries outside off, something that has plagued generations of Indian cricketers. But Harbhajan said that it is better not to compare this team with earlier batches.
“I don’t want to compare. They played in different era. Everytime we toured we had the best chance of winning. I don’t want to compare teams of different era. Kohli with Dhoni or the former players like Rahul Dravid, VVS and Sachin,” said the spinner. Virat Kohli was a visibly frustrated figure in the post-match press conference. “Captaincy comes with a lot of responsibility. He has done really well so far,” said Harbhajan about Kohli, “This was his first real overseas challenge. I don’t call Sri Lanka a real overseas challenge with similar conditions (like India). Kohli has been setting very high standards. I’m very happy to see him at the top of this game.”