3 July 1980, Jullundur
Teams: Punjab, India.
As: Harbhajan Singh
Style: Right Hand Bat
Style: Right Arm Off Break
to the Indian cap in 1998 was a major surprise to the world because the
18-year-old was relatively unknown outside Punjab. An attacking spinner
in the classical mould, he has not yet established himself in the side.
The fact that he has not fully enjoyed the confidence of the selectors
is one reason for this but his action being deemed suspect by the ICC has
also stalled his progress. A stint with former England off spinner
Fred Titmus seemed to have done him some good. The one quality that
Harbhajan Singh is well known for is that he is a fighter to the core.
For a purveyor of slow off spinners, his attitude is aggressive.
He is back among the probables for the series against Australia - the opponents
against whom he made his Test debut three years before - it is to be hoped
that his best results could lie ahead since he has youth on his side.
Harbhajan Singh's road
to glory has not been an easy one. The 20-year-old off-spinner from Jullunder
has been plagued by allegations of a jerk in his bowling action and insinuations
of him having attitude problems. After almost losing his job with employers
Indian Airlines and being saddened immensely by the death of his father,
Harbhajan was reborn as a cricketer. Training doubly hard, the fiery youngster
readied himself for the touring Australians. In the absence of ace legspinner
Anil Kumble, India were desperately on the look out for a strike bowler.
Bowling with a high arm action, extracting good bounce and considerable
turn on good Test match wickets, Harbhajan Singh destroyed the Aussies
by scalping 32 wickets in the three Test series. Harbhajan's performance
had outdone the previous best wicket tally for an Indian in a Test series
against Australia, beating legendary left arm spinner Bishen Singh Bedi's
haul of 31 wickets in 1977-78 in Australia. What makes the feat especially
commendable is the fact that Harbhajan notched up his wickets in three
Tests as against Bedi's five. The most special moment in the series for
Harbhajan was undoubtedly the hat-trick he snared in the first innings
of the second Test at Kolkata when he dismissed Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist
and Shane Warne off successive deliveries. In the three Tests, Harbhajan
returned figures of 4/132, 13/196 and 15/217, thereby leading India to
a famous 2-1 victory.
In the course of
the series, Harbhajan was constantly aggressive, giving back in good measure
any on field chatter he got from the Aussies. With the bat too Harbhajan
struck some lusty blows, earning kudos from teammates, scribes and selectors
alike. The arrival of Harbhajan at the international stage as a force to
reckon with has been a whiff of fresh air for Indian cricket. India were
struggling in the bowling department and Harbhajan has answered the call
India v Australia at Bangalore, 3rd Test, 1997/98
India v New Zealand at Sharjah, Coca-Cola Cup, 1997/98
Harbhajan Singh is a
happy man after picking up the Man-of-the-Match award
Delhi ODI: Harbhajan's
bhangra rocks New Delhi, March 28, 2006
After the humiliating Mumbai
Test defeat, there was a vociferous clamour to get the Indian team rid
of its two 'burdens' - Sehwag and Harbhajan.
After the Feroze Shah Kotla
encounter, those demands will gain voice in the first case, but will die
down in the second... at least for the time being.
Turbanator produced one of
his finest ever bowling performance in recent past to steal the first of
the seven ODI series from England's grasp on Tuesday. His exceptional utilization
of the low bounce and 'square' turn offered by the pitch had the batsman
twitching and prodding at his deliveries.
With just 204 runs needed
to win after a yet another forgettable show by the Indian batsman, the
tourists stumbled and stuttered and finally fell short of the target by
Harbhajan back with his black
patka, posted not only his best ever figures of 5/31 in the limited version
of the game, but also top scored for India with an enterprising 37 in the
latter stages of a disappointing batting performance, which proved fatal
for the tourists.
Having won the toss and put
India to bat, Flintoff must have considered himself blessed with recurring
windfalls, when Indian batsman played rash strokes one after the other
to signal their demise. At the end of the first half, the skipper walked
back pleased as a punch, with the hosts just about managing to surmount
However, Fate has a knack
of dishing out personal favours to the underdog, which catches the opponent
At 117/3, England were cruising
towards victory with the deadly combination of Kevin Peitersen and Andrew
Flintoff at the helm and no speed-breaker in sight - India's fate looked
as good sealed.
However, the fall of 3 crucial
wickets for just 3 more runs on board got the hosts that vital 'foot in
the door'. From then on, Bhajji showed his true colours with the second
five-wicket haul of his career, as India successfully defended their meagre
At the match presentation,
Bhajji rightfully looked relieved and satisfied. "It feels great to be
back in the wickets...it's been a while and it really is special."
With a special win in their
kitty, India will further look to turn the screws on England. The second
of the seven match series will be played in Faridabad on Friday.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan
Singh take the bike for a spin in the outfield
The stage was set in
the 47th over when Harbhajan - with 36 needed from 24 - clattered Shoaib
Akhtar for a sweetly-timed six over wide long-on. The unhappy fast bowler
replied a couple of overs later, giving Harbhajan an earful after the lower-order
batsman played and missed at a bouncer. Umpire Billy Doctrove intervened
to separate the pair, but not before a heated exchange. Mohammad Aamer to Harbhajan
Singh, SIX, 128.5 kph, Bhajjiiiiiiiii! He has absolutely smoked this one.
Gets a length he can get under, and hits it with the sweetest part of the
bat, over midwicket. HUGE. And he roars, removes the helmet and roars.
As soon as he sees he has hit it clean, he looks towards third man, where
Shoaib is, and roars. It is a primal roar, what a blinder from Bhajji,
Akhtar makes a V sign, and looks away.
Harbhajan Singh Aggression
The most famous six off
all time, by Javed Miandad off the bowling of Chetan Sharma on the last
ball of the final over at Sharjah in 1986, was believed to have such a
crushing and psychological affect that a whole decade of Indian bowlers
might have been affected.
Prior to Sharjah, Pakistan
had lost six of their nine one-day matches against India. After Sharjah,
Pakistan was to win eight of the next nine matches between the two, including
five on Indian soil. And now Harbhajan Singh has done
Javed Miadad or better. Hitting Mohammad Aamer penultimate ball for six,
Harbhajan showed who is the better of the two. Comparing Javed Miadad
to Harbhajan Singh is unfair, Javed being a proflic batsman whereas Harbhajan
Singh a bowler. Harbhajan's towering
strike of the match's penultimate ball helped India defeat Pakistan by
three wickets in a crucial Asia
Cup clash at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium here on Saturday
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