'The best game I've got' - Harbhajan
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