Calcutta: From being the leading spinner of the country, to languishing in the dark alleys of neglect, Harbhajan Singh has seen it all in the past one year.
Even when the off-spinner was selected in India’s World T20 squad, Yuvraj Singh stole all the limelight as his heroic story of making a comeback from cancer grabbed the headlines. Harbhajan remained in the backdrop, there but not really there.
One wondered how he would perform when Mahendra Singh Dhoni would decide to give him a chance. Actually, many doubted whether he will manage to get a place in the playing XI at all, given Ravichandran Ashwin’s consistent shows.
But on Sunday, at the Premadasa, the feisty spinner proved that all a forgotten champion needs to prove himself at the biggest stage is just four overs. Man of the Match Harbhajan’s 4-2-12-4 was the reason behind India’s 90-run victory against England.
And in success, it is God whom Harbhajan thanked first. “First of all, I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to play for India again. It’s been a hard year for me… Being out of the side due to injury and then getting dropped,” he said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
He knew how important it was for him to make the most of his opportunity and so came the thumping comment, “…I’m back.”
“The other boys were also doing really well… So it was really difficult for me to make a comeback. But by the grace of God, I got another chance… And God is great… He gave me four wickets today and I’m back,” he said.
But God was not the only one who found a place in Harbhajan’s ‘thank you’ list. Dedicating his performance to his mom, he said: “Obviously, it was a very important game for me. I hadn’t played international cricket since last year. Getting a wicket in the second ball gives you a lot of confidence. I’m glad that everything went my way. This award is for my mom and those who have stuck with me in the tough times.”
About his cricket, Harbhajan revealed that he has been working on his bowling for quite some time to make it sharper. “I’ve been working on a few things… In T20 cricket, it’s important to read the game. I have tried to cut down my run-up a bit. I was running in too fast and was not able to control the ball well. So, I was coming in off a short run-up today, and slowly. And when you have God by your side, no one can stop you,” Harbhajan reminded.
The man who has never been short of passion while representing his country added: “The India shirt is everything for me. I don’t know what I would do if I was not playing for India. I would like to thank everyone… Special thanks to my teammates…
“They were always asking me about my well-being… I want to thank the Essex people too. The County stint helped me in getting my confidence back. It’s been a great night for me… I want to continue working hard and win more games for my team.”