Notwithstanding the disastrous tour of England during which it lost its numero uno status in Test cricket, retired Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan feels the Indian cricket team will soon bounce back to the number one position.
India went to England as the number one in Tests, but meekly surrendered their top ranking after a 4-0 whitewash.
The 50-overs world champions did no better in the shorter versions, failing to win a single match in the rain-marred five-match series.
“India has a very good team and they were at their best prior to this series. It’s just a matter of one bad series. Not much should be read from this and you can’t write them off on the basis of this. India have a chance to bounce back against Australia which is not as strong as they used to be,” said Muralitharan.
“Many key players of Indian team were injured hence it was not their best team. It happens with every team but I am sure that the MS Dhoni-led Indian team will clinch the number one ranking in Test cricket very soon,” said the world’s highest wicket-taker.
While many attributed India’s pathetic show in England to too much, Murali did not think likewise.
“I don’t think there is too much Cricket. Players like (Virender) Sehwag, Yuvraj (Singh) and (Gautam) Gambhir did not go to West Indies but they were injured in England. Injuries are bound to happen and part and parcel of the game.
“As you get older, injuries come more often. Nowadays in every country cricketers play that much amount of Cricket. For me, as much as you play, you get fitter and better player,” he said.
Murali, who had once said that only Harbhajan Singh can emulate him, backed the Indian off-spinner who is going through a rough patch.
Harbhajan, who has 406 Test and 259 ODI wickets, had a below-par outing in the West Indies and England. While he took 11 wickets in 3 Tests and and four in three ODIs in the Caribbean, Harbhajan managed just two wickets in as many Tests in England. He could bowl only 13.4 overs in second Test due to abdominal strain that forced him to pull out of the tour.
“I will only tell Harbhajan that don’t give up. Don’t worry about the criticism and concentrate on performance. This is just one phase and everyone goes through it.
“I think Harbhajan needed a break. He will bounce back with a bang. He is young and has five-six years of international Cricket in him. I have full faith in his abilities. Just one or two bad series do not make him a bad bowler,” he said.
On former Australian umpire Darrel Hair’s allegation that Harbhajan is also among the bowler with highly suspicious action, Murali refused to comment.
It was Hair who triggered a storm by accusing Muralitharan of chucking 16 years ago. In his book ‘The best interest of the game’, he said that Harbhajan, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Hafeez, Johan Botha and Abdur Razzak all bowl with highly suspicious action.
“This is his individual opinion. I don’t want to comment on that.”
Asked if Australian umpires have some kind of bias towards bowlers from the sub-continent, he replied in the negative.
“It’s not like that all the Australians are bad. Everyone has his own opinion. There are good people in Australia.”
Muralitharan said he will play T20 Cricket for Wellington in New Zealand in the next few months.
“Then I have one year of contract with English county Gloustershire. Then again in New Zealand in December and I hope that I will play in IPL for atleast two more years,” he signed off.