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June 3, 2014
Harbhajan Singh believes he was the standout Indian spinner in the IPL and has voiced displeasure at his continued absence from national squads.
"I do feel ignored and it's surely not a good feeling," he told PTI. "Yes, it hurts when you are not selected for India. My performance in this year's IPL is for everyone to see. I can do what's there in my control. But let me assure you, I might get hurt by the snub but it would not stall my comeback bid. Among the Indian spinners, I believe that I bowled the best."
Harbhajan, 33, could not find a place for the ODIs in Bangladesh, nor was he in contention for the Tests in England. He has not been part of an Indian side since March 2013. There have been arguments that he slips into defensive tactics and that his effect diminishes when tasked as the lead spinner. However, in the latter part of the IPL, he had to shoulder Mumbai Indians' attack in the absence of last season's spearheads.
"There was no Mitch (Johnson) this year and Lasith (Malinga) had international commitments after first 10 games," he said. "So I had more responsibility this year as the senior-most bowler.
"I flighted the ball and was slower through the air. In 14 IPL matches, there were 10 games where I went for less than 24 runs. There was only one match in which I went for more than 35 runs and that was against Rajasthan Royals."
Harbhajan bowled 55 overs in the competition and finished with the third-best economy rate. However, only five of them were sent down during the last five overs. The majority of his workload (42 overs) was between the 7th and the 15th overs.
"What satisfied me was that on most occasions, I was able to make the batsman play the ball where I wanted him to play. From grip to execution, it felt good. It reinstated my belief that I am good enough to play at this level for another five years."
A reasonable lower-order hitter, Harbhajan had the statistics to back his claim for his re-branding as an allrounder. He also has two Test centuries.
"When I watch my matches on TV, I see that beside my name they show a ball which means I am a specialist bowler. I have more than 1000 runs (1043 runs) in T20 coming in at Nos 8 and 9. I have a strike-rate of 142-plus over 164 matches. How am I clubbed only as a specialist bower?"
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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