Mumbai v Rest of India, Irani Cup, Mumbai February 5, 2013

'The best game I've got' - Harbhajan

19

Harbhajan Singh has played just one Test since the end of the England tour in the middle of 2011 and made no pretensions about the fact that he's on a comeback trail and is keen to be selected for the Test series against Australia starting later this month. The Irani Cup game against Mumbai starting on Wednesday, he said, "is the best game I've got" ahead of the series to make a lasting impression.

"I just want to be relaxed and look to bowl rather than running after wickets," Harbhajan told reporters on the eve of the Irani Cup game. "The wickets will come, today or tomorrow, but my aim is to bowl well. I'm sure I'll get those rewards if I bowl well."

Harbhajan led Punjab in five Ranji Trophy games this season, picking up 16 wickets at 32.25. He has an impressive record against Australia, picking up 90 wickets at 29.35, and shot to fame against them in 2001 in a three-match series at home in which he collected 32 wickets. "I always look forward to playing cricket, whether it's against Australia or England or Mumbai. It's one of those things that's there in my blood. I want to be there, play cricket, and enjoy the moment. Australia, I've done well against them, if I get a chance to play against them I'll try to repeat what I've done against them."

At 99 Tests, Harbhajan is just one game away from becoming the 10th Indian cricketer to have played 100 or more Tests. Though he admitted it did play on his mind, his experience, he said, has taught him to not pay undue attention to such landmarks. "Somewhere it does get into your head, you're close to 100 Test matches, even when you're batting between 90 to 100 or when you've taken four wickets and looking to get five. But somehow as a player you just need to go with the game rather than thinking too much ahead. If you just concentrate on the process, things will automatically happen for you. If not today, tomorrow it will happen.

"Last year onwards, I've been trying too many things to play my 100th Test, but when I started playing I never thought I'll come this far. I've come this far because I was just looking to enjoy the game, just looking to go back into the whole system of trying to enjoy the game and playing with lot of passion, things will start happening."

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kawaljit on February 5, 2013, 18:55 GMT

    India is again going to the past and not looking at the future.. Bhajji has had so many chances and its time that the young spinners get s fair chance to show their capabilities... Anyway if Bhajji is to be given a chance(which should be the last one woud think), it should be outside the subcontinent because thats when he will be really tested... Infact this is the perfect time to get young blood as it would be a confidence booster as they have more chances of succeeding... Comeon Indian selectors, Bhajji already had his share of chances... Guys like Ojha, Ashwin, Amit Mishra need to be given a longer run... Going back to Bhaji (who turns the ball less than yuvraj these days) would mean that India doesnot have any spin talent left inn the country let alone the pacers... God help Team India... All the best..

  • CricketMaan on February 5, 2013, 14:31 GMT

    His downfall is when he started focusing more on containing runs than picking wickets. I read somewhere Dhoni wanted someone to contain runs as other bowlers were not able to that. In doing that he lost his bite, he doesnt rotate it as he used to and the fact he plays a lot more shorter format has made him bowl flatter. he hasnt flourished under Dhoni as much as he did under Dada, and the fact that he enjoyed bowling with Kumble was a big reason for bulk of his wickets. A lot have already written of Ashwin, which is sad...Even Swann had to be dropped before he made a comeback. The truth is Ashwin will play many short format games and that won't help him grow as a Test bolwer. We see it happening with Bhajji.

  • AjberTheGangulian on February 6, 2013, 15:27 GMT

    @ROXSPOT this guy is given chamber because none of the other ipl heroes do not work.. And by the by spinner's prime time start at 32...

  • AjberTheGangulian on February 6, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    Everybody very keen to comment on young blood.. Just follow first class cricket for a month you all will realise not much of international standard left there.. Anybody can pass expert comments but reality is different

  • RK.Chandru on February 6, 2013, 15:07 GMT

    wish, selectors discard these players without getting influenced by these blabbers. He's finished and let's get to see some fresh faces in the test series ahead....

  • gnanzcupid on February 6, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    harbhajan should not b sitting here in the dressing room. he should have been in the stands cheering his ipl team.

  • siddhartha87 on February 6, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    bhajji and chawla are waste as spinners.I dont know what is bhajji doing in ROI squad.He doesn't deserve to be there

  • MVSegar on February 6, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Well giving a chance to bhajji will be a step taken backward.We don't have Murali and Warne in India.We have Ashwin and Ojha alone.So let us try and get the best out of them.That would be practical rather than expecting Mishra/Chawla/Ashwin/Ojha to take a lot of fivers.That is not gonna happen.They are still new and they need guidance.But they are the future no matter how bad they are.Let us face it.Harbhajan,is not just past his prime but also been poor in Ranji this season.

  • realfan on February 6, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    i am sorry to say, but bajji's time is over... 1) he is not in form 2) even if he is in form , he cant be lethal and cant take wickets... 3) ojah is permanent in test, dhoni wont go against ashwin , even though i feel ashwin should not be in the ANY SQUAD of INDIAN cricket.... he is just IPL....

    so there you go... no place for him....

  • MunafAhmed811 on February 5, 2013, 20:25 GMT

    Even my 11 year old nephew spins the ball nowadays more than Bhajji. I dont get it why these players refuse to accept that they are past their prime and new talented persons are ready to take over.

  • kawaljit on February 5, 2013, 18:55 GMT

    India is again going to the past and not looking at the future.. Bhajji has had so many chances and its time that the young spinners get s fair chance to show their capabilities... Anyway if Bhajji is to be given a chance(which should be the last one woud think), it should be outside the subcontinent because thats when he will be really tested... Infact this is the perfect time to get young blood as it would be a confidence booster as they have more chances of succeeding... Comeon Indian selectors, Bhajji already had his share of chances... Guys like Ojha, Ashwin, Amit Mishra need to be given a longer run... Going back to Bhaji (who turns the ball less than yuvraj these days) would mean that India doesnot have any spin talent left inn the country let alone the pacers... God help Team India... All the best..

  • CricketMaan on February 5, 2013, 14:31 GMT

    His downfall is when he started focusing more on containing runs than picking wickets. I read somewhere Dhoni wanted someone to contain runs as other bowlers were not able to that. In doing that he lost his bite, he doesnt rotate it as he used to and the fact he plays a lot more shorter format has made him bowl flatter. he hasnt flourished under Dhoni as much as he did under Dada, and the fact that he enjoyed bowling with Kumble was a big reason for bulk of his wickets. A lot have already written of Ashwin, which is sad...Even Swann had to be dropped before he made a comeback. The truth is Ashwin will play many short format games and that won't help him grow as a Test bolwer. We see it happening with Bhajji.

  • AjberTheGangulian on February 6, 2013, 15:27 GMT

    @ROXSPOT this guy is given chamber because none of the other ipl heroes do not work.. And by the by spinner's prime time start at 32...

  • AjberTheGangulian on February 6, 2013, 15:22 GMT

    Everybody very keen to comment on young blood.. Just follow first class cricket for a month you all will realise not much of international standard left there.. Anybody can pass expert comments but reality is different

  • RK.Chandru on February 6, 2013, 15:07 GMT

    wish, selectors discard these players without getting influenced by these blabbers. He's finished and let's get to see some fresh faces in the test series ahead....

  • gnanzcupid on February 6, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    harbhajan should not b sitting here in the dressing room. he should have been in the stands cheering his ipl team.

  • siddhartha87 on February 6, 2013, 11:04 GMT

    bhajji and chawla are waste as spinners.I dont know what is bhajji doing in ROI squad.He doesn't deserve to be there

  • MVSegar on February 6, 2013, 10:10 GMT

    Well giving a chance to bhajji will be a step taken backward.We don't have Murali and Warne in India.We have Ashwin and Ojha alone.So let us try and get the best out of them.That would be practical rather than expecting Mishra/Chawla/Ashwin/Ojha to take a lot of fivers.That is not gonna happen.They are still new and they need guidance.But they are the future no matter how bad they are.Let us face it.Harbhajan,is not just past his prime but also been poor in Ranji this season.

  • realfan on February 6, 2013, 8:08 GMT

    i am sorry to say, but bajji's time is over... 1) he is not in form 2) even if he is in form , he cant be lethal and cant take wickets... 3) ojah is permanent in test, dhoni wont go against ashwin , even though i feel ashwin should not be in the ANY SQUAD of INDIAN cricket.... he is just IPL....

    so there you go... no place for him....

  • MunafAhmed811 on February 5, 2013, 20:25 GMT

    Even my 11 year old nephew spins the ball nowadays more than Bhajji. I dont get it why these players refuse to accept that they are past their prime and new talented persons are ready to take over.

  • ROXSPORT on February 5, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    @ Sathish.Velu: I was talking about Harbhajan. Why is this guy repeatedly getting so many chances, when we have seen over the last three years or so that he is well past his prime?????? Is there more to what meets the eye???? Are the sponsors pulling some strings???? Or, is personal friendship counting for more????????????

  • TM on February 5, 2013, 18:07 GMT

    i really think we should persevere with Ashwin all he needs is some coaching and hell be fine plus he will solve the problem of an all rounder

  • Sathish.Velu on February 5, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    @roxsport, dont worry dude imtiaz is being signed by csk, and he will be in yellow playing under dhoni this ipl, hope he does well and also gets selected to indian team Do

  • ROXSPORT on February 5, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    Just compare Harbhajan's stats with that of a nobody like UP pacer Imtiaz Ahmed who has picked up 37 wickets in 9 matches. As per espncricinfo: "In the Ranji Trophy this season, Imtiaz was the leading wicket-taker from Uttar Pradesh taking 37 from nine matches at an average of 25.45, including three five-wicket hauls". This on Indian wickets which don't favour pace bowling. Now decide for yourself as to where Harbhajan lies.

  • Prats6 on February 5, 2013, 15:16 GMT

    Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but what has he done to get a place in ROI side? Most spinners in the domestic circuit have been better than him. Its sad that reputations and not performance count for selections.

  • Sussexx on February 5, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    You will do well Bhajji.. don't worry. You will take 4for in the first and 2 in the second. Good luck for that and congratulations for your 100th test in advance.

  • pritpalpabla on February 5, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    In the last series against England,He got only one game, in which Dhoni only gave him 20 overs to bowl with comparison of Ojha and Ashwin who respectively got more than 40... Shows Dhoni's approach against him clearly... He is just another victim of Dhoni nothing else... Still feel he is best spinner to represent India in test matches...

  • gbqdgj on February 5, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    As a keen follower of International cricket, I've always loved The Turbanator's approach to the game. I'd love to see him back playing well enough to be picked by India.

  • on February 5, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    For me he still is the best spinner based on his past experience and recent failures of Ashwin (also Dhoni's Favorite). Last time also he was made a goatscape of the test match loss against England. I wish he does good and bounces back for Australia Tour & IPL 6 !!!

  • on February 5, 2013, 13:04 GMT

    For me he still is the best spinner based on his past experience and recent failures of Ashwin (also Dhoni's Favorite). Last time also he was made a goatscape of the test match loss against England. I wish he does good and bounces back for Australia Tour & IPL 6 !!!

  • gbqdgj on February 5, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    As a keen follower of International cricket, I've always loved The Turbanator's approach to the game. I'd love to see him back playing well enough to be picked by India.

  • pritpalpabla on February 5, 2013, 14:16 GMT

    In the last series against England,He got only one game, in which Dhoni only gave him 20 overs to bowl with comparison of Ojha and Ashwin who respectively got more than 40... Shows Dhoni's approach against him clearly... He is just another victim of Dhoni nothing else... Still feel he is best spinner to represent India in test matches...

  • Sussexx on February 5, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    You will do well Bhajji.. don't worry. You will take 4for in the first and 2 in the second. Good luck for that and congratulations for your 100th test in advance.

  • Prats6 on February 5, 2013, 15:16 GMT

    Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but what has he done to get a place in ROI side? Most spinners in the domestic circuit have been better than him. Its sad that reputations and not performance count for selections.

  • ROXSPORT on February 5, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    Just compare Harbhajan's stats with that of a nobody like UP pacer Imtiaz Ahmed who has picked up 37 wickets in 9 matches. As per espncricinfo: "In the Ranji Trophy this season, Imtiaz was the leading wicket-taker from Uttar Pradesh taking 37 from nine matches at an average of 25.45, including three five-wicket hauls". This on Indian wickets which don't favour pace bowling. Now decide for yourself as to where Harbhajan lies.

  • Sathish.Velu on February 5, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    @roxsport, dont worry dude imtiaz is being signed by csk, and he will be in yellow playing under dhoni this ipl, hope he does well and also gets selected to indian team Do

  • TM on February 5, 2013, 18:07 GMT

    i really think we should persevere with Ashwin all he needs is some coaching and hell be fine plus he will solve the problem of an all rounder

  • ROXSPORT on February 5, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    @ Sathish.Velu: I was talking about Harbhajan. Why is this guy repeatedly getting so many chances, when we have seen over the last three years or so that he is well past his prime?????? Is there more to what meets the eye???? Are the sponsors pulling some strings???? Or, is personal friendship counting for more????????????

  • MunafAhmed811 on February 5, 2013, 20:25 GMT

    Even my 11 year old nephew spins the ball nowadays more than Bhajji. I dont get it why these players refuse to accept that they are past their prime and new talented persons are ready to take over.