Harbhajan Singh after dismissing Tim Bresnan, in Colombo, on Sunday. The
off-spinner finished with figures of four for 12. (Reuters)
Colombo: Harbhajan Singh’s phones had been rather silent for a year. Well, from Sunday night, they’ve begun to again get pretty busy.
But, then, that’s how things are in the present times.
Making his first India appearance in almost 14 months, Harbhajan took 4/12 and walked away with the MoM award in the World Twenty20 game against England.
Harbhajan’s marvellous effort helped India register a massive 90-run win (biggest run-wise) in a match which won’t have a bearing on the Super Eights. Both teams have, after all, qualified for that stage.
Requiring 171, England managed as little as 80, being bowled out in 14.4 overs.
“God is great,” was Harbhajan’s SMS to The Telegraph, soon after he’d collected his award at the R. Premadasa Stadium.
With a batsman (senior pro Virender Sehwag) rested, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni could field five specialist bowlers. Three — Harbhajan, Piyush Chawla and Ashok Dinda — were making a comeback, but nobody appeared to suffer from nerves.
That Zaheer Khan and Ravichandran Ashwin would be rested had been reported in these columns. According to Dhoni, Sehwag was also “requested” to take a break and he agreed.
Fielding five bowlers clicked and it has given Dhoni a “problem of plenty.” As he put it: “I’d rather have a problem of plenty than not having that (extra) guy...”
“It’s going to be a difficult decision, who to leave out in the next game... I don’t have the answer,” Dhoni admitted.
England captain Stuart Broad, who ended up looking rather foolish for having chosen to chase, didn’t look very perturbed.
“This was a match we could afford to lose... On some days, everyone seems to play badly together... We made it pretty easy for India, regularly losing wickets, and we’ll have to learn from mistakes... Any International defeat is frustrating...
“It’s a disappointing loss, but it doesn’t change our destination... We still hop on to a bus and go to Kandy (for the Super Eights),” Broad said.
That six of the nine wickets credited to bowlers went to spinners leaves little unsaid and Andy Flower must already have begun worrying about the tour of India not too long down the season.
Predictably, Broad didn’t admit that he missed England’s best player of spin, Kevin Pietersen. It’s highly unlikely that the result would have been as bad had he been on the park and not in a TV studio.
In a fine gesture, Broad praised Harbhajan. “He bowled very nicely, his top-spinner came out very well.”
Dhoni also had much praise for India’s most successful off-spinner: “Harbhajan was very aggressive, very focused... He wanted to do well and bowled a tight line and length...
“I’ve seen Harbhajan bowl better, but... Given the circumstances and the pressure, it was important for him to do well and even a 2/24 would have been very good...
“Harbhajan got the top-spinners and the doosra going... He gives us a good option, as he can bat down the order... Taking everything into account, it was a brilliant performance.”
Earlier, in the evening, Rohit Sharma (promoted to No.4) top-scored with an unbeaten 55. Gautam Gambhir got a decent 45, which should lift his confidence, while Virat Kohli posted 40.
Their contributions powered India to an impressive 170 for four.
Going forward, India’s first Super Eight game, versus Australia, is on September 28.