Roseau, July 8: It would have been just a routine day at the office for Harbhajan Singh. But July 7, 2011 turned out to mark an epoch for the feisty off-break. He surprised Windies wicket-keeper Carlton Baugh with a straighter delivery which crashed into the batsman's middle stump. In so doing, Bhajji had knocked back his scalp no. 400 in Test cricket.
It took him just 96 matches to reach the milestone and he now has become just the 11th man in the history of the sport to garner such a haul. He also turns India's third bowler ever to reach the landmark, behind Kapil Dev who finished on 434 wickets band Anil Kumble who signed off with 619 scalps.
It's been a bumpy ride for the tweaker ever since he trudged out onto the Test scene on March 25th 1998. Calls of a suspect bowling action blighted his early career, but in 2001, he silenced his detractors with a corrected action which enabled him to ensnare a record 32-wicket haul from three Tests against the visiting Australian side. In that series, he also incidentally, became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket.
He turned out to be one of controversy's favourite children, facing the ignominy of allegedly making racist slurs against Australian half-breed Andrew Symonds and for slapping Sreesanth during the inaugural Indian Premier League, not to mention a joust with the police in Guwahati.
But he has also been fittingly lauded one of India's finest cricketers as the conferreing of the Padma Shree on him in 2009 is testament to. How else would one reward a man who has taken 25 five-wicket hauls and who has managed to garner 10 wickets in Test on 5 occasions.
Having turned 31- year old just 5 days ago, Bhajji is far from done with his cricketing exploits as he now sets his sites on the home of cricket - England.