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India sweat over Harbhajan fitness ahead of Test

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INDIAN star off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is doubtful for tomorrow’s  opening Test against Australia in Mohali due to a leg injury.
 
“We will decide on Harbhajan tomorrow morning,” India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni told reporters today.
 
Harbhajan has been a constant menace to Australia since leading India to a stunning 2-1 series victory over Steve Waugh’s team with a 32-wicket haul in three home matches in 2001.
 
He has taken 79 wickets in 14 Tests against Australia.
 
“He has been our main spinner since Anil Kumble left cricket (in 2008). He has been well-supported by (spinners) Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha, but the main attack has always revolved around him,” said Dhoni.
 
“It is a bit of a concern, but you can’t control cricketing injuries. We’re just hoping he’ll be available for selection, but if he’s not we’ll have to make use of the available resources in the best possible manner.”
 
Harbhajan’s loss would be a major blow to India as he is the most experienced spinner in the squad, with 357 wickets in 85 Tests.
 
The Indian skipper said his team were not under pressure because of their number-one Test ranking, but were keen on playing competitive cricket and winning “more sessions” than the opposition.
 
“You are expected to win if you are playing at home. Your ranking doesn’t matter much,” said Dhoni.
 
“In a five-day match, it’s all about winning more sessions. The team which wins more sessions will generally win the match.
 
“In India, the last two days will be crucial because there will more turn for spinners and fast bowlers get the ball to reverse swing.”
 
Dhoni also said his team were expecting a tough challenge from Ricky Ponting’s Australians despite their number-four ranking.
 
“They are aggressive and look for results. They always come up with good plans and they’ll be up for the challenge. But we know which areas we need to improve,” said Dhoni.
 
“It’s always good to play against top teams because there’s a fierce competition on the field and at the same time you see where you are at that moment as far as form and talent are concerned. It will be a good series.
 
“They are a good side, a balanced side. They’ve been to India before and know the conditions well.”
 
Australia last toured India for a Test series in 2008, losing two of the four matches.
 
India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Amit Mishra, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay.
 
Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Peter George, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Marcus North, Tim Paine, Steven Smith, Shane Watson, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson.

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