Former Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden believes that Harbhajan Singh at his prime was much more attacking than Ravichandran Ashwin.
“I think stats often lie but having said that, some of the milestone show remarkable respect to Ravichandran Ashwin, who is fastest to 300 wickets in Test cricket. Even if he plays for another five years, he would be remembered as one of the greats of his generation. His skill-set, like Harbhajan, is masterful but he is probably not as attacking an off-spinner as Harbhajan was,” Hayden told PTI on Thursday.
Ashwin picked up his 300th Test wicket in the second Test against Sri Lanka, becoming the fifth Indian bowler to reach the figure. More importantly, he eclipsed Dennis Lille’s record (56) of the fastest bowler to reach the landmark.
“But then Ashwin doesn’t really need to be as attacking as Bhajji. His role within this side is well-defined by a slightly better fast bowling attack [as support cast] than what my generation was facing. You line-up Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and put Jasprit Bumrah into the mix with Ravindra Jadeja as the second spinner as well. So Ashwin is playing his role and doing it successfully,” Hayden explained.
The opener had faced Harbhajan Singh at his prime and had seen Ashwin’s emergence from close quarters during his time with Chennai Super Kings.
“Harbhajan I thought in his era was ‘the dominant bowler’ especially against Australia so if Bhajji wasn’t taking wickets, India were in trouble. I don’t think Venkatesh Prasad was a wonderful Test match bowler. I think Harbhajan was the lone role maker.
“With due respect, Zaheer Khan or Javagal Srinath were wonderful bowlers but I think they were less of a threat compared to guys that are there now,” Hayden added.