Essex bid for back-to-back wins as Harbhajan Singh makes debut

HARBHAJAN Singh is set to make his home debut for Essex this week as the county face Hampshire in the LV= County Championship campaign, starting on Thursday.

Indian Test spinner Harbhajan, 32, was part of the Essex squad that spent a frustrating few days at Cheltenham where both the LV= County Championship and Clydesdale Bank 40 matches with Gloucestershire fell victim to the weather.

Only 100 overs were possible in the four-day game with the last two days totally washed out and another total abortive day followed on Sunday when the CB40 game between the Gladiators and the Eagles was abandoned without a ball bowled.

Although Essex only took four points from the Championship fixture with Gloucestershire, head coach Paul Grayson believes that the promotion chase is still wide open.

“The key will be to try and put back-to-back wins together, if you achieve that, then there is every chance you can move right up the table,” he said.

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“Whoever can put a good run together from this point will have a great chance of getting promotion,” he continued.

“There’s no reason why that can’t be us. Everyone is in good spirits we are all confident that we could be that team that makes the late surge at the end of the season.

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“Hopefully, we’ll get some decent weather this week at Chelmsford to give us the chance to start putting a winning run together. We’ve got Harbhajan now, he’s fitted in really well and hopefully, he’ll have a big impact on our season.”

Essex will select from a 12-man squad and with James Foster absent because of personal reasons, the side will again be led by Mark Pettini while Adam Wheater continues as wicket-keeper.

The only injury worry at present concerns Owais Shah who is recovering from a calf strain although it is hoped he will be fit for Tuesday’s Friends Life t20 clash with Somerset at Taunton.

Essex squad: B Godleman, J Mickleburgh, T Westley, M Pettini (capt), R ten Doeschate, G Smith, A Wheater (wkt), G Napier, Harbhajan Singh, D Masters, M Chambers, T Craddock.

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