Chennai: Former India batsman VVS Laxman on Saturday criticized India captain MS Dhoni for keeping aloof from struggling players when they need him most. Laxman, who is part of the Star Cricket commentary team for the first Test against Australia here, gave the example of Harbhajan Singh who he thinks needs plenty of encouragement considering that the offspinner, playing his 100th Test, is going through a lean patch.
Laxman was baffled at Dhoni for not bringing Harbhajan into the attack in the first hour of play on day two on Saturday. "Dhoni is sending out the wrong message by keeping Harbhajan on the sidelines. He is making him [Harbhajan] feel unwanted in the team," he said on-air. "A guy who is playing his 100th Test doesn't deserve that sort of treatment."
Harbhajan was finally brought into the attack after a gap of 51 overs despite other India bowlers failing to break the dogged stand between overnight batsmen Michael Clarke and Peter Siddle. That miffed Laxman, who said this wasn't the first time that Harbhajan had been looked through by his captain.
"When Harbhajan returned after a long time for the Mumbai Test against England late last year, he was given the same treatment. A guy who is making a comeback has some nervous energy, some jitters and a captain should give him plenty of support and that's how you get the best out of a player. Dhoni didn't do that then," said Laxman.
"Harbhajan is the kind of bowler who thrives on confidence. He needs a couple of wickets to get his confidence back. He is that sort of bowler. Unfortunately he doesn't have his captain on his side."