Target of 499 Stiff, but Achievable: Harbhajan

Melbourne, Dec 29: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who entered the 250-wicket Test club Friday, said that India can still win the Test match by achieving the improbable target of 499-run against Australia.
In his comments after the third day's play in the first cricket Test here, he felt with all the wickets in tact and 180 overs of play over two days, the Indian batsman should entertain hopes of winning, though it is an uphill task on a pitch which is slow and low.

"It is a stiff target but achievable with the kind of batting line-up we have. If we play to our potential I think anything can happen. This is a good wicket to bat on and I think batsmen are looking forward to go out tomorrow and show some character," said Harbhajan.

"And if we can win it will help us in the remainder of the series. Whatever happens we will give our best shot to win this game."

Harbhajan was also of the view that India's poor batting in the first innings is the difference between the two sides, otherwise we would have had an even chance of pulling it off.

"It is a totally different sort of conditions. First of all we didn't get much time and side matches to acclimatise. It takes time for players to adjust to these conditions," he said.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting is Harbhajan's 250th victim. He picked up three wickets for 101 runs in the second innings and bettered his one for 101 in the second innings of the 2003-04 Brisbane Test.

Harbhajan with 251 wickets is the fourth Indian after Anil Kumble (591), Kapil Dev (434) and Bishan Singh Bedi (266) to achieve the feat.

The 27-year-old off-spinner also said his feat would give him big boost in the upcoming matches.

"It's a good feeling to reach 250 Test wickets, but I have to bowl better in the remaining Tests. It takes time to adjust on these (Australian) pitches. The more I play here, the more I will learn," he said.

The off-spinner also added that bowling slow in the second innings on the slow and low MCG pitch did the trick for him.

"In the second innings today, I bowled slow and took a lot of time to deliver the ball, compared to the first innings where I was rushing in to bowl," said Harbhajan.

"I was a little relaxed today. I knew one or two wickets would get my rhythm back and after scalping Hayden I started enjoying my bowling," he added.

Harbhajan, however, said that there was hardly any assistance from the pitch for the slow bowlers.

"I was just trying variations and angles by going over the wicket and round the wicket as there was hardly any spin. The wicket was too slow and not like the usual Australian pitches," he said. 
Harbhajan enters 250-wickets Test club 
Melbourne: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh picked up the wicket of Australian captain Ricky Ponting and entered the 250-wicket Test club at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). 

Harbhajan, who now has 251 wickets, is the fourth Indian after Anil Kumble (591), Kapil Dev (434) and Bishan Singh Bedi (266) to achieve the feat.

Harbhajan picked up three wickets for 101 runs in the second innings and bettered his one for 101 in the second innings of the 2003-04 Brisbane Test.

The following are the statistical highlights of the day:

# Matthew Hayden, during his innings of 47, has completed his 8,000 runs in 92 Tests - 8003 runs at an average of 53.00. He is the fifth Australian player and the 18th in Test annals to have amassed 8000 or more runs.

# Allan Border (11174 in 156 Tests) heads the chart for Australia, followed by Steve Waugh (10927 in 168), Ricky Ponting (9515 in 113), Mark Waugh (8029 in 128) and Hayden (8003 in 92).

# Phil Jaques (66 & 51) for the second successive Test, has recorded 50-plus in each innings of a Test match. With six successive fifty-plus innings - 66 vs. Bangladesh at Chittagong in 2005-06; 100 vs. Sri Lanka at Brisbane and 150 & 68 at Hobart in 2007-08 and 66 & 51 vs. India at Melbourne, Jaques has equalled an Australian record for most 50-plus innings.

# Jack Ryder, Doug Walters, Greg Chappell, Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Michael Hussey and Jaques now share the record for most 50-plus innings for Australia.

# Michael Clarke (73) posted his seventh fifty - his third against India.

# Kumble, with Clarke's wicket, took his tally to 49 (ave.29.40) in 10 Tests in 2007. Both Muralitharan (49 in 8 Tests at 22.30 runs apiece) and Kumble share the record for most wickets in 2007.

# With Jaques' wicket as 'caught and bowled', his 31st in this fashion, Kumble has equalled Muttiah Muralitharan's record of 31 'caught and bowled' dismissals. 


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