|Born||Jul 03, 1980|
|Age||39 years 113 days|
|Bat Style||Right Handed|
|Bowl Style||Off break|
A young Harbhajan Singh bolstered his credentials after a successful home series against Steve Waugh's invincible Australia in 2001. Replacing an injured Anil Kumble, 'Bhajji' was crowned 'Man of the Series' in performances that stopped the Kangaroos’ record unbeaten run.
Prior to his ascendancy during that series, Harbhajan made a full international debut as a teenager in 1998. After a year in action, few noteworthy displays coupled with a suspect bowling action was all that emerged and he was eventually relegated to domestic cricket. His return after a two-year hiatus was one filled with renewed determination and epitomized captain Sourav Ganguly's fearlessness. Following his stand-out performance against Australia, he forced selectors to rethink India's bowling line-up by opting for a two-pronged spin attack in tandem with Anil Kumble. Rarely did his bowling fail to yield satisfactory results, often being the source of bulk wickets for India. He added further repute as a player with his pinch-hitting abilities as a tail-ender. Harbhajan continued to haunt Australia on their return tour to India with another 10-wicket haul at Bangalore in 2004, in a series which India eventually lost. He did face criticism from various circles for being too defensive, a flaw rectified by honing the skill to flight deliveries. He was part of both India's failure in the 2007 World Cup and later its success in the ICC World Twenty20 in the same year.
Following spin ally Kumble's retirement from international cricket, the mantle was cast on ‘The Turbanator’ (nickname), especially in series abroad where India usually played with a single spinner. He stuck to his task in India's series victory in New Zealand in 2009, the country's first such win against the Kiwis in 40 years. In November 2010, he scaled an unprecedented summit in his batting career when he scored his maiden Test century against New Zealand, helping India to save a match that was slipping ominously out of their grip. Although he was not a successful bowler in terms of taking wickets at the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, Harbhajan was India's priority spin bowler and played all the games in the tournament that India went on to win by beating Sri Lanka in the final. In 2011, Harbhajan led the Mumbai franchise in the Champions League for the year and emerged victorious. However, poor run of form in international cricket forced him out of the team and he was left out for the home series against West Indies and the tour to Australia later that year. Immediately, the off spinner went back to basics and improvised in his stint with Essex. He was named in India’s T20I squad for the 2012 World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
The transition from one spin legend in Kumble to a potential one in Harbhajan is credit in part to the selectors for having an eye on sustenance. But it is Harbhajan’s willingness to improve and his never-say-die spirit that makes him a player who fans love. Though overshadowed by Ashwin at the moment, Harbhajan Singh remains a prized player in the Indian domestic circuit and a comeback can surely not be ruled out in the near future.
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