'Trying to be a better individual'

'Trying to be a better individual'

On a different day, Harbhajan Singh would have thundered ahead of a series against Australia – all those ‘bring the Aussies’ stuff would have been floating in the air by the time the series started.

But on Friday, a day ahead of his 100th Test, Harbhajan looked a man at peace with the world and himself. Finally.

“It comes with the age. I’ve definitely grown up. I’ve mellowed down, and with time you learn a few things... I’ve made a few mistakes in my career, due to my extra aggression. I’m looking forward to being a better person. You might play this game for 15 years, but what sort of person you’re, that’s what that matters. Everyone wants to be a better person than yesterday, I’m trying to be one,” he said.

Despite playing for 15 years and taking more than 400 Test wickets, the Punjab off-spinner has always been a fallen guy in many eyes. But those smirks no longer bother him. “How do I handle criticism, I just keep quiet. Everyone has got their opinion. But unfortunately or fortunately people who have not played to that level, if they say things like I’m not good enough to play for India, it doesn’t matter, who cares. Even I’ve got my opinion about others, it’s not that I’m right all the time. You’ve got to live with it.

“What matters is what my team-mates think of me. Those guys are going to be with you,” he said.

This Australian team may not contain big names, but Harbhajan wasn’t ready to write them off or predict an easy series for India. “Why I said we could beat them 4-0 earlier (is) because if we don’t believe, who will? I believe that we can do it. But the Australians come hard at you, whatever team they might have come with. I’m sure it’ll be a good series.”

In a show of mutual respect, Australian skipper Michael Clarke expressed his respect for a tough opponent like Harbhajan. “It’s a great thing for Harbhajan. He has been a wonderful player and has proved that for he is playing his 100th Test match here tomorrow. It is a very special achievement. On behalf of the Australian team we congratulate him on that.”

“I always had a very good relationship with Harbhajan. I have challenges on the field against him as he is a very good bowler. He is going to be very hard to face as ever.”

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