R Ashwin slams 'juicy headline', says Harbhajan Singh 'inspired' him to bowl offspin

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Bengaluru, Oct 17: Indian offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin has slammed the media for "pitting" players against each other and coming up with a "juicy headline".

Kohli responds to Harbhajan jibe; Fans slam Harbhajan

Ashwin, who won the Player-of-the-series award in the recently concluded 3-match Test series against New Zealand, took to the micro-blogging site Twitter to clarify and criticise stories emerging as "Ashwin versus Harbhajan Singh". (Harbhajan writes to Ashwin, clarifies)

File photo: Ashwin (left) and Harbhajan during an Indian team training session

It all started during the 3rd and final Test against New Zealand in Indore when veteran offspinner Harbhajan tweeted that the pitches were "tailor-made" for spinners.

This comment was intrepreted as Harbhajan belittling the efforts of Ashwin and other Indian spinners who helped India make a 3-0 clean sweep over the Kiwis. Ashwin took 27 wickets.

Harbhajan went on to add that he and Anil Kumble would have got more wickets if they had got similar pitches.

Some saw it as "jealousy" on part of Harbhajan to comment on the nature of wickets. However, he did congratulate India on the series victory.

Today (October 17), Ashwin revealed that it was after watching Harbhajan in the epic 2001 Test series against Australia that he took up offspin.

"@harbhajan_singh has been an inspiration nd I started bowling off spin only after seeing the 2001 series.This banter going on is unhealthy," the 30-year-old Tamil Nadu bowler wrote.

In another tweet, he added, "By pitting players against each other we aren't going to gain anything but just a juicy headline.Lets respect ppl and keep the game healthy."

One of the fans pointed out to Ashwin that he had liked a "hate tweet" against Harbhajan. Ashwin clarified that it "must have been a mistake while browsing through."

Test captain Virat Kohli had defended the pitch and bowlers stating that even if it was a turning track bowlers had to take wickets and Indians excelled while the visitors failed.

Kohli had said, "Well, it is obviously I mean...See even if it is a turning pitch you have to bowl well. There is no... spin doesn't happen only off the pitch. Spin is how many revs you can throw off the ball, from your shoulder first. And then the ball will do something off the pitch. When we lost to New Zealand I quite clearly remember in the World Cup (T20), suddenly their spinners were quality and we were found out. I don't see anyone talking about that now.

"The same spinners (Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi) have played. Why have they not been able to pick up wickets? It is as simple as that. Our fast bowlers picked up wickets everywhere. We never complained about anything. So... see you can give a guy a cement track to bat on. He needs to have the mindset to score runs. It is as simple as that. That is all I can sum up in".

The 36-year-old Harbhajan, who played 103 Tests for India, took 417 wickets. Kumble is India's leading wicket-taker in the five-day format with 619 victims from 132 matches.

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