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Saqlain backs out-of-favour Harbhajan

Press Trust Of India
Feb 03, 2012 at 12:09pm IST

Karachi: "Too much focus on Twenty20" is harming Harbhajan Singh's international career, but the out-of-favour Indian off-spinner needs to be supported instead of being cold shouldered, feels former Pakistan tweaker Saqlain Mushtaq.

Harbhajan, who came a cropper in the tour of England, was dropped from the team for the ongoing tour of Australia.

Saqlain, also an off-spinner, said any player can be off-colour for a while but his overall performance should be kept in mind before deciding on his career.

Saqlain backs out-of-favour Harbhajan

Harbhajan, who came a cropper in the tour of England, was dropped for the Australia tour.

"I think at the moment, the main issue for him is too much focus on Twenty20 cricket and secondly after all he is a human being ? he can't do well all of the time and you will have your ups and downs and we should accept that," Saqlain said.

"But, I think the media was after him when he was in England, but if you look at the pitches and conditions, they were more suitable for the fast bowlers. Graeme Swann was not even bowling that much, he was bowling 4-5 overs in one innings! All the fast bowlers were taking wickets. From India, Zaheer Khan got injured and Ishant Sharma was not bowling that well," he added.

Saqlain said the Indian team failed as a unit in England but Harbhajan was singled out for criticism which affected his morale.

"I think before that series, Harbhajan was having a bit of bad form, but they kept blaming him, that was wrong I think. This added more pressure on Harbhajan," Saqlain said.

"The critics were not talking about the fast bowlers or the batsmen. The batsmen were not performing well, but they were blaming Harbhajan Singh and put him under pressure. After that, they dropped him," he pointed out.

Saqlain said Harbhajan is a proven match-winner and should be given another chance.

"I think if you see the whole scenario of the last series and before that, I think the Indian cricket officials were not treating Harbhajan properly, they didn't treat him well," he said.

"I think they should trust in him and he's done a lot for that country. Not just in one game, but he's played for years and years in all forms of cricket, T20, ODI, Test cricket and has been phenomenal.

"I think they should call him again and should back him.

"I think he has a lot of cricket left in him and they should give him support. He'll perform well and bring results for the country, they should just back him and bring him back into the squad," he added.

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