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Harbhajan trying too hard in comeback: Raju

HARBHAJAN SINGH's lackluster performance in the first cricket Test against Sri Lanka has put him under pressure and former India tweaker Venkatapathi Raju feels the veteran off-spinner's poor form is the result of trying "too hard" to prove his worth on comeback. 

In a match dominated by spin, Harbhajan picked just one wicket in his 25 overs during the course of two innings as India lost by 63 runs to go 1-0 up in the three-match series. 

"He went through that rehabilitation phase while correcting his action. Then he was out of contention for a while and now when he has made a comeback, he is probably trying too hard. (But) There is nothing lacking on the experience front. He knows what to do in which condition," Raju told PTI in an interview. 

"But that's the problem, when you make a comeback and you are trying to prove yourself. You try to do something more and that sometimes doesn't work," the former left-arm spinner added. 

Raju, 46, who was part of the last Indian side which won a Test series 22 years back in Sri Lanka, said the three-spinner theory works only when the batsmen get runs on board. 

"When India went in with three spinners, there were batsmen like (Virender) Sehwag who would put up runs in the board. A score of 400 always helps. Then you had bowlers who were all-rounders. This team is a young team, probably they will gain experience and get better," he said.

"I was part of the team that won against Sri Lanka under Mohammad Azharuddin in 1993. See their strength has also been spin. They had the great Muttiah Muralitharan but also had a Chaminda Vaas who could come and pick wickets. And they were all good players of spin. 

"But then our players were also playing domestic cricket and were used to those tracks. So whenever we hosted Australia or England, we put up more than 400-500 runs on the board," he added. 

Praising Rangana Herath, who bagged seven wickets to help bundle India out for 112 in the visitors' 176-run chase, and Tharindu Kaushal for their exploits in Galle, Raju insisted that the duo had the backing of favourable home conditions. 

"Rangana Herath and Tharindu Kaushal on the other hand worked well in tandem in home conditions and the spinners theory worked for Sri Lanka. But once again the batsman have to put up runs for the bowlers to defend," he said.

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