London:Former England captain Mike Atherton feels Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has become a lesser force due to over-dependence on his 'doosra' which is affecting his ability to drift and spin the ball.
India won the first Test against England in Chennai, but Harbhajan was largely ineffective on a crumbling wicket and Atherton feels the reason is his over-use of 'doosra'.
"Even though Harbhajan was in form, bowling at a ground he knows well and at batsmen short of match practice, he made little impression," Atherton wrote in his column for 'The Times'.
"I am not entirely sure that Harbhajan is the bowler he used to be, now that an overextended use of the doosra -- the ball that spins to the off -- has affected his ability to drift and spin his stock ball, the off spinner," he added.
Atherton, however, took a sympathetic view of England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar and said his below-par show was a result of lack of match practice and the pressure of too much expectations.
"Although Panesar failed abjectly to do his bit on the final day, bowling 27 wicketless overs, comparing match figures does not show him in the poor light one may imagine. Amit Mishra, the leg spinner, bowled 51 overs, taking four for 165; Harbhajan bowled 68 overs, taking four for 187; Panesar bowled 46 overs, taking three for 170. The difference is not so marked," he pointed out.
Atherton said England should stop expecting Panesar to be a Shane Warne and let him focus on his strengths. "He is no Shane Warne, never has been, never will be. He is, however, a bloody good finger spinner and still the best England have by a distance. One bad game does not change that," he explained.