The opening match between Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2019 Indian Premier League witnessed a low-scoring encounter at the MA Chidambaram stadium. Virat Kohli’s side were bowled out for 70 on a pitch assisting spinners and Chennai Super Kings took their time to coast home to a seven-wicket win to get their campaign off to a great start. Harbhajan Singh got the big wickets of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers and he was given great support by Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja, who took three and two wickets respectively. Harbhajan won the Man of the Match and highlighted the fact that not often does an off-spinner get the wickets of Kohli and de Villiers in the same match.
Speaking in the post-match press conference, Harbhajan said the shots played by the batsmen were rash. “It was a wicket where it was holding a bit. We honestly didn't expect it to turn so much as it did today. We played a practice match here and the wicket was a good one. We would have preferred to play on a wicket that wouldn't spin as much as this did. Hopefully it would be better hereafter. In some places, yes, they played some rash shots as well. It was not that this was a 70 runs wicket. You'll get at least 120 if you apply yourself,” Harbhajan said.
The low-scoring nature of the match resulted in criticism on the Chepauk wicket, with Dhoni and Kohli also criticising the amount of turn it offered the spinners. Harbhajan had a different take on the whole issue. “It was a difficult pitch to bat on but it wasn't like it was unplayable. We're so used to watching matches on good wickets where no one complains when people score 170-180. But if it spins or seams a little, everyone has a problem, saying why is this happening? No one has a problem with why so many runs are being made. So people actually forget that the bowler also has a job in cricket. Batsmen should struggle once in a while so that they understand that it should be a battle of bat and ball,” Harbhajan said.
Jadeja key in World Cup
With the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 just a couple of months away in England, the Indian players will be determined to put up a good show in the IPL to boost their chances of being selected in the Indian squad for the tournament. Harbhajan has said Jadeja, who picked up two wickets in the game, should be on the plane to England.
“I feel someone like Ravindra Jadeja is always in the game as long as he is looking to spin the ball. He is someone, though I don't want to talk way too much about the World Cup, I feel he could be a key member for the Indian team to win that. He bowls, bats and is a brilliant fielder, a gun fielder. Finger spinners should be given the responsibility and they will deliver,” Harbhajan said.