Picked out of nowhere for the three-Test series against Australia in 2001, Harbhajan Singh responded with a 32-wicket haul that had the cricketing world gushing over the young off-spinner from Jalandhar. Since then, Harbhajan has had his ups and downs in international cricket. But with 350 plus wickets in Test cricket, the second highest by an off-spinner, Harbhajan has established himself as a bowler of repute.
Harbhajan has enjoyed his share of censure with critics often terming his performances overseas as inadequate. Another recurring complaint is his inability to innovate when put under pressure. But it is indisputable that Harbhajan is up to the challenge when the situation looks most bleak. Some of his most memorable performances have been against strong Australian sides, be it the CB series finals of 2007-08 or his cameos with the bat in Sydney, Bengaluru and Nagpur in 2008. He has clearly discovered the secret to getting under Ricky Ponting’s skin – Harbhajan has dismissed the Australian 10 times in the 14 matches that the two have squared off against each other.
Harbhajan bowls his off-spin a lot flatter than some of the past masters of this art like Erapalli Prasanna or S Venkataraghavan. But it is his ability to get the ball to skid and bounce off the pitch that make him a dangerous proposition. He also bowls a lovely ‘doosra’, a delivery that goes the other way after landing. Harbhajan’s action while bowling the wrong ‘un, however, has come under scrutiny more than once in the past.
Harbhajan hit his first century in Test cricket, against a visiting New Zealand side at Ahmedabad in November 2010, with India under pressure to save the match. He followed up that effort with another century against the Kiwis in the very next Test at Hyderabad.
More recently, towards the end of 2010, Harbhajan was one of four players retained by the Mumbai Indians for the subsequent editions of the IPL, a sign of his popularity and value even in the shortest format of the game.
|Test debut||v Australia, Bangalore, Mar 25, 1998|
|ODI debut||v New Zealand,Sharjah, Apr 17, 1998|
|T20I debut||v South Africa, Johannesburg, Dec 01, 2006|
|IPL debut||Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai, Apr 20, 2008|
|CLT20 debut||Mumbai Indians v Lions, Johannesburg, Sep 10, 2010|