I am glad to be back in the mix, says elated Harbhajan

I am glad to be back in the mix, says elated Harbhajan

Off-spinner hopes to make it to final 15 for the ICC World T20

Harbhajan Singh has tattooed ‘faith’ on the back of his palm after overcoming his fear of needles, he has taken to re-tweeting South Africa-born Swiss explorer and adventurer Mike Horn’s inspirational tweets on life and he appears to be at peace with himself despite being sidelined from international cricket for a while now.

The off-spinner last played for India in March 2013 in a Test against Australia in Hyderabad while his last appearance in an ODI was way back in June 2011. He hasn’t even played in T20 for India since September 2012. From being India’s number 1 spinner, who was once even preferred over Anil Kumble, to taking the arduous domestic route back to the national squad, Harbhajan’s career has come full circle. At 33, he definitely has a few more years of international cricket left in him but with the likes of R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Ravindra Jadeja churning out impressive performances, at least on Indian pitches, India’s most successful off-spinner understands that the next few months of cricket are going to be crucial for him. And his inclusion in the 30-member probable list for this year’s World T20, comes as a reassurance in his effort to get back into the Indian side. 

“I am glad to be back in the mix again and, hopefully, I will make it to the 15. I’ve done well in the IPL and the Champions Trophy and I am hoping for the best,” Harbhajan told Deccan Herald. Before a shoulder injury prevented him from playing, Harbhajan had taken 18 wickets in three Ranji Trophy matches and on return he led Punjab into the semifinals with a game-changing knock against Jammu and Kashmir. Before this Ranji season, he had taken 24 wickets in Mumbai Indians’ title triumph in IPL-6 while he came up with match-winning performance (4/32) in the final of the Champions League T20 against Rajasthan Royals.  

Mumbai connection

While an India call-up is still some distance away, he has been retained by Mumbai for the next three years of IPL. “I have been with them for six years and it’s good to be playing for them once again,” he pointed out. “When you go into the auction, you don’t know which team you will go to and I have always played for MI and they have stuck by me even when I was not doing well. They have been very supportive and it is great to be a part of the MI set up once again.” 

Being with Mumbai means he will be under the mentorship of his former spin-mate and captain Anil Kumble who has been a pillar of support by off-spinner’s own admission. “Anil bhai is someone who I have respected a lot through the years,” he began. “I’ve learnt a lot from him, not just in cricket but even otherwise. Of course, he’s helped me to become whatever I have become today as a cricketer. In terms of bowling, field setting, on how to take on challenges when things go wrong, he’s always been there. I’m grateful to have him alongside me. It is nice to have him in MI because it really helped me last year. He is probably one of the main reasons why I had a great IPL season last year,” he felt.

While the desire to come back still burns bright, there is no sign of bitterness though. The time spent outside the hustle and bustle of international cricket has helped Harbhajan reflect on life and even value things that have come his way. “Life is great... No complaints,” he remarked when asked how life has been without big-time cricket. “Yes, cricket is a very special part of my life but life is much bigger than the game. There are lots of other things to do in life. I’m grateful because I’ve probably had the greatest time in the last 15 years (playing for India), and hopefully even better time in the next 15 years. Cricket may not be a part of my life and I might not be playing a few years down the line. But there are people who don’t play cricket or for that matter any sport and they are still happy. 

“God has given me everything and I want to be thankful for that rather than crib about what happened in the last two years. It was tough but you have to learn to take everything in your stride and try and make a comeback in whatever – whether it is cricket or life. And you have to work hard to get there. I’m working towards it and that’s all I can do from my side,” said Harbhajan who has re-tweeted Horn’s ‘every drop of sweat is a step closer to success.’

Only time will tell how close is he to achieving that success.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry