Kolkata, Oct 29: A performer since the early days of his career, Harbhajan Singh gradually became the most prominent bowler of all time. After spin legend Anil Kumble bid adieu to International cricket, this lanky turbanator was termed as the king of spin in Indian cricket. Ever since his debut in 1998, Bhajji has worked hard to overcome all the competition that existed and has managed to sustain a place in the national side.
Though it has been quite a few years now, Harbhajan Singh is still remembered for his magical spell which included the first test hatrick by an Indian which helped the team register a historical win against the Aussies at Eden Gardens Kolkata. There is a scarcity of such performances in recent times from this talented off-spinner.
Due to inconsistency, Bhajji was dropped from the recently concluded ODI series against England. On being dropped he said "I wouldn't say I was hurt. I was more surprised. I wish the younger guys all the best. I am more than happy to share my experience with them like I was helped by Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly while I was coming up,"
Harbhajan's dismal show against England was another reason for ignoring him. Before being ruled out of the test series due to a stomach injury, Bhajji had played the first two test matches and wasn't that effective during the series. With two wickets from 69.4 overs at an average of 143.5 he was not at all effective. Bhajji seems to be off track in the recent past. Critics are targeting him and finding fault since his bowling is not penetrative enough.
The 31 year old off spinner provided stellar performances for the club Mumbai Indians earlier this year during IPL season 4 and also helped them win the Champions league T20 that concluded in Sep 2011. He has not been able to reproduce that magic on the international stage in recent times. This has led to his exclusion from the national side.
On dumping Harbhajan again, “We pick the squads on the basis of the current form and at the moment, Ashwin is our first choice. Let him (Harbhajan) play some domestic cricket and prove his form, only then we will consider (his case)," said a source.
There is a mix of opinion from the veterans about Harbhajan's exclusion, while Kapil Dev was not surprised at him being dropped, he said "You do get hurt if a spinner of the calibre of Harbhajan is dropped. But if his exclusion is beneficial for the team, then I'm happy. I'm not going to say anything against the selectors."
Another veteran the reverse swing expert Wasim Akram was surprised and had voiced his opinion too. According to Akram, Bhajji did not deserve to be axed and has lot more to offer. Likewise, former Indian captain Bishen Singh Bedi had also suggested bhajji to play domestic matches to get his mojo back.
All said and done, Harbhajan being the most prominent bowler at one time to just another player in the team does hurt but that is what we call transition phase.It is time to move on and think about a young and a rejuvinated team for the upcoming series against West Indies.