Steve Waugh has heaped praise on Harbhajan Singh, claiming the spinner played cricket like the Australians. The former Australian skipper admitted that playing against Harbhajan was like facing the Aussies themselves, which caused problems for them.
The legendary skipper saw Harbhajan Singh come of age in the 2001 Test series in India. Australia were on a roll back then, but their 16-match winning run came to an abrupt end, as Harbhajan Singh’s 13 wickets in the game outfoxed the Aussies.
Speaking to Cricket Australia, Steve Waugh talked about what made Harbhajan Singh so difficult to face in Tests.
“He played in the same vein, the same spirit and the same method as we did. That’s probably why we found him a bit prickly because it was like playing against ourselves in the opposition. He played cricket the Aussie way. He was in your face, a bit of talk, aggressive, positive and he backed himself,” he said.
Harbhajan Singh is regarded as one of India’s best-ever spinners, and the offie has 417 Test wickets to his name. The finger spinner usually reserved his best for Australia and has claimed 95 Test wickets against the team.
Steve Waugh also shed light on why Harbhajan Singh dominated the Australians, conceding that his bounce bamboozled them.
“He wasn’t a traditional off-spinner. He got a bit overspin and bounce. It wasn’t always the sharp turn, but the subtle variations and bounce. Got caught bat-pad pretty regularly off him,” said Steve Waugh
Steve Waugh claims Harbhajan Singh was the difference in 2001
The 2001 India vs Australia Test series is memorable for a variety of reasons. Widely regarded as one of India’s famous Test series wins, the home side made a roaring comeback to win the series 2-1.
It was a young Harbhajan Singh who finished as the Player of the Series during the Tests. The off-spinner picked 32 wickets at an average of 17.03 as the Aussies struggled to read him. He also took a famous Test hat-trick, dismissing Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, and Shane Warne during the 2001 Kolkata Test to achieve the feat.
Interestingly, the rest of the Indian bowlers took just 17 wickets in that series. Steve Waugh looked back at Harbhajan Singh’s performance that year, admitting that Australia would have won the series if not for the young spinner.
“He won the series for India in 2001. 32 wickets in 3 Tests. We just couldn’t counteract his bounce. He got this amazing bounce off the length. Every spell he bowled against, he dominated us. Incredible strike rate bowled a lot of overs and was consistent. Hayden probably took him on and did well, but the rest of us really couldn’t find a way to get on top of him. Without him, we would have won the series. A very influential figure, particularly against us,” Waugh concluded.Published 14 Jan 2021, 15:01 IST