Every Indian is happy about the performance of the Indian cricket team in the 1st Test at Chennai. Not just supporters but the players too must feel satisfied after performing excellently against the Aussies. But one man from the Indian squad has looked completely ordinary. He is non another than the highest wicket taking off spinner of India, Harbhajan Singh.
Struggle and Harbhajan look like words made for each other. Right from the beginning, Bhajji has been struggling. Of course there was a time when it looked like he had gone past his struggling period with his fighting attitude, but alas. When everyone was expecting him to make a strong comeback against his favourite opponent, he returned with 1 wicket, that too of a tail ender. The frustration was seen clearly when he saw his fellow off spinner Ashwin getting 7 wickets.
It took 21 years for him to make an International impact and that too against Australia, the No.1 Test team of that time. That was a wonderful series for him with that historic Test match of Kolkata ending with his wicket of McGrath. His performance was as important as that of VVS Laxman! He ended that series with the award of Man of the Series and took 32 wickets in all.
At the beginning of his career, ICC doubted his bowling action. Bhajji then went to Fred Titmass in England to correct his action and to return to international cricket. He had a very bad time in 2000. After the death of his father, the responsibility of his 5 sisters was on his shoulders. At the same time, he was struggling to keep his place in the Indian squad. He was left out of the squad for almost a year. The frustration reached its peak and Bhajji decided to leave cricket. He thought of going to USA and working as a truck driver for some time! But after a short time, remembering his father’s words, he was back here in the hopes of a new beginning. He fought back and managed to get back into the team.
There is a long list of his controversies right from his debut.
In 1998, in his 1st match he had a fight with Ricky Ponting (agony for Bhajji, since they will be playing together for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2013 with Ponting leading the team). In 2000, BCCI took action against him for his misbehaviour at the NCA, Bengaluru. The time went on, Bhajji’s age was increasing and so did his wickets in Test and ODI’s. People had just started thinking that they were watching the matured Harbhajan, but once again in 2006 the poster of him without the ‘Pagadi’ was published and a new controversy began. He had to apologize later for this mistake. And then came 2008. Oh, who can forget that ‘monkey gate’ drama? Every thing was going against Harbhajan but he was lucky to escape from it. Then during IPL 2008, he slapped his own team mate Sreesanth!
He was banned for few matches after that incident. In 2008 during an interview, he doubted the sportsmanship spirit of Gilchrist and Hayden.
The struggle has always been there in Harbhajan’s life. But this Punjab da Puttar is too strong to give up! He always fights back. We have seen that in the past and hopefully same thing will be seen even now. Harbhajan is now 33. The shoulder has certainly weakened a little after taking 400+ wickets over the years. But this can be a sort of second innings for him. He certainly has a potential of playing as India’s frontline spinner for another 3-4 years. Let’s keep hoping that Bhajji will give an outstanding performance in the second innings!