The cry,‘Nice bowling Bhajji! Come on Bhajji!’ shall soon be heard echoing in an international match as the ‘Turbanator’ is all set to return in the Indian white flannels against Bangladesh in a one match Test series. After a very good hunt in the Indian Premier League (IPL), his call-up was inevitable.
Harbhajan, himself would never tend to erase the following fond memories and as it is said ‘A wounded Lion is more Dangerous’. Craving to make a comeback into the national side, we might just get to see the old ‘Harbhajan’ back again.
Sandeep Patil, the chief of the BCCI selection committee has cited the number of left handers in the Bangladesh team as the major reason for picking up Harbhajan. With questions about his future career under the hammer, this series has pushed him into a ‘do or die’ situation.
If yes, here are five of his best previous performances in the Test arena that give the fans a beam of hope that Bhajji will be back.
Hunting the Kiwis: (2009, Hamilton)
The tossing and turning Harbhajan made a huge impact on the game by turning it towards his team’s favor in the second innings. Put into bat, New Zealand were bundled for 279 thanks to the likes of Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel who toppled the Kiwis’ batting line up. Harbhajan did not have much to do except for picking up one wicket.
India replied with a humungous 520, riding on the master Sachin Tendulkar’s 160. Trailing by 241 runs, Martin Guptill and Daniel Flynn were steadying the ship before Harbhajan came to the party.
Dismissing the well set Guptill for 48, Harbhajan continued his rampage by picking up Flynn for 67. His next prey was the first innings centurion, Jesse Ryder who fell to a straight ball. Bhajji added one more left hander to his tally by dismissing James Franklin of a flighted delivery.
The Kiwi’s skipper Daniel Vettori was the next to go and Harbhajan finished with figures of 6 for 63. Chasing a meager target of 39 was not a tough one for India as they did it with all 10 wickets in hand.
Another masterclass at Kolkata: (vs South Africa in 2004)
This ‘Man of the Match’ performance shall go down as an unforgettable one in Harbhajan’s career. At one of Harbhajan’s favourite hunting ground, the Eden Gardens, South Africa posted a total of 305 in the first innings, in which he cleaned up the tail with his two wickets.
Sehwag and Dravid chipped in with half centuries and a few cameos by the middle order took India to 411. The second innings for South Africa started in a good pace with the openers Graeme Smith and Andrew Hall building a healthy partnership.
The move to bring in the off-spinner worked well for Ganguly as Harbhajan sent off the top 5 batsmen of the opposition, back to the pavilion. His victims were Smith, Hall, Jacques Rudolph, Kallis and the dangerous Hashim Amla. He ransacked the batting line up with two more wickets as South Africa declined to 222.
Again, chasing 120 runs with the likes of a formidable batting line up was not a Himalayan task for India.
Harbhajan picked up 7 wickets for 87 runs which earned him the Man of the Match. His performance led India to victory in the match, thus clinching the two match series 1-0.