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SK Flashback: Harbhajan Singh's ferocious comeback after 12 months

We reminisce Harbhajan Singh's magical spell in 2012 against England in the ICC WT20.

MOHALI, INDIA - MARCH 30:  Harbhajan Singh of India celebrates after the dismissal of Shahid Afridi of Pakistan  during the 2011 ICC World Cup second Semi-Final between Pakistan and India at Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium on March 30, 2011 in Mohali, India.  (Photo by Graham Crouch/Getty Images)
Harbhajan Singh made a winning comeback to the Indian team

The fourth edition of the ICC World T20  was truly a memorable tournament.  As opposed to the previous editions, the 2012 edition was supposed to expand to 16 teams, but it was not to be as the tournament continued with 12 teams.

The tournament spelled the beginning of the dominance of West Indies cricket in this particular format of the game as they went on to win the tournament by defeating Sri Lanka in the final. They also won the 2016 edition of the tournament which was held in Bangladesh by defeating England in the final, thus becoming the only team in history to win the tournament twice. 

The format in 2012 was similar to the 2010 edition, with the initial stages of the tournament consisting of 4 groups of 3 teams each. India and England were in the same group along with Afghanistan who had qualified earlier by winning the qualification tournament which was held in Sri Lanka earlier in the year.

Both – England and India had a successful start to their campaign as they both defeated newcomers Afghanistan with significant ease, thus ensuring their qualification to the Super 8 stage of the tournament. With not much to play for, India and England squared off in the final group stage encounter at Colombo.

Decision to include Harbhajan Singh paid off

India made three changes to their regular line-up which included bringing in Harbhajan Singh who was playing his first match in over a year. This decision paid off as he produced a match-winning performance, thus proving all his critics wrong and giving the selectors something to think about for the future. After choosing to bat first, Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir got India off to a decent start with a 57 run stand for the 3rd wicket, after Irfan Pathan’s early dismissal. Rohit Sharma carried things forward for the Men in Blue as he scored a brilliant half century which included five fours and one humongous six. 

With 171 to chase in their allotted 20 overs, England were off to a terrible start as  Pathan produced two quick wickets. The spin duo of Harbhajan and Piyush Chawla did not allow any England batsman to settle as they spun their way to an enormous victory against the Englishmen. 

England were bowled out for a lowly 80 in 14.4 overs which was their lowest ever in Twenty20 internationals. Their previous lowest was 88 against West Indies in 2011.

M.S Dhoni’s decision to introduce the “Turbanator” during the power play paid off as he produced a wicket-maiden to start with. In the next three overs of his, he produced a magical spell, taking three more wickets and conceding only 12 runs. 

His wickets included the wickets of Eoin Morgan, who was bowled by a quicker arm-ball as he made room to cut. Tim Bresnan top-edged a sweep. Jos Buttler got out as he gave himself room to a quicker ball, but missed, and Graeme Swann skipped down the wicket and missed a doosra. 

His spell of 4-12 was the best figures by an Indian bowler in T20 internationals back then. It was also the 5th best overall. Of course, the stats have changed over the past four years as a lot of T20 matches have been played since then. 

Much to the delight of fans, Harbhajan’s gritty performance resulted in a comeback for him to the Indian side. He featured a lot more in T20 international than in Test or ODI cricket, but his contribution to the Indian team has always been significant. 

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