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Harbhajan joins elite club with 400th Test wkts

WINDSOR PARK (Dominica), Jul 8 (Agencies)
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Published on 9 Jul. 2011 12:38 AM IST
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In a matter of a couple of hours, the Windsor Park wicket that had resembled a typical West Indian one all along - with the shine evident - turned into a typical sub-continent strip by lunch. It was as if the sun, the rain and the soil were making way for Harbhajan Singh to achieve his landmark here. And the turbanator, 13 years after he made his debut, 10 years after he cemented his place in the squad, became only the 11th bowler in the history of Test cricket to claim 400 wickets. It wasn’t an easy scalp that came when he got a well-set Carlton Baugh to miss one that landed slightly outside the off-stump and turned in. The bowler pumped his fist in the air, let out a cry and stood still as his teammates ran up to congratulate him. The giant screen flashed his figures and the spaced out crowd at Windsor Park, those sitting in the Indian and West Indies dressing rooms gave the bowler a standing ovation. The landmark had been in the waiting for a while now. Ever since he had landed in Jamaica for the first Test match of this series - and seven short of 400 - all eyes had been on Harbhajan and when he’d get there. Critics scoffed when the ball didn’t turn, shoulders dropped when tailenders pounced at him. The off-spinner didn’t have it easy at all. But he couldn’t have been denied the moment, especially given the fact that his 400th scalp triggered the West Indies downfall in the first innings as the hosts were bowled out for 204. The medium-pacers had set the game up well early on Wednesday and Thursday. Harbhajan would have to bowl quite a bit thereafter not just because the 400 was approaching but also because MS Dhoni was running the risk of another slow over-rate and the prospect of facing a one match ban next. Harbhajan had work to do, and do it fast. The 399th wicket, his first in this Test, came when he got Windies captain Darren Sammy to bat and pad one at short leg. The 400th was Baugh throwing his defence open, enough for the ball to slip in. For Harbhajan to bowl that freely, the attack had been set up well by pacer Ishant Sharma who grabbed another five wicket haul. The lanky bowler made batsmen duck and sway and it was only when the shine was gone that Harbhajan took over. The match was Harbhajan’s 96th Test and to be fair in his assessment, he had not been at his best so far. While he becomes the third highest Indian wicket-taker in Tests after Anil Kumble (619) and Kapil Dev (434), Harbhajan has had to battle his share of criticism reaching here. To make his case now, in his moment of glory, he also became only the fourth spinner ever to take 400 wickets after Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.




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