As Harbhajan Singh announced his retirement from all forms of cricket after 23 sensational years, the whole cricket fraternity is going down the memory lane on Friday to look at Turbanator’s playing days. When the off-spinner was at his speak, he was a nightmare for the batsmen.
And while words can’t describe Bhajji’s exceptional talent, his stats certainly justify what an incredible servant he has been for Indian cricket. 417 wickets in Tests, 269 scalps in ODIs and 25 dismissals in T20Is – this is what Harbhajan achieved on the field of cricket.
Although one can’t look back at all his 711 international wickets, let us have a glimpse of his top 5 most memorable spells while playing for India.
7/120 vs South Africa (Test | 2011)
In the 3rd Test between India and South Africa in Cape Town, Harbhajan Singh weaved his magic against a strong batting line-up of the home side. After India got a marginal 2-run lead in the first innings, the off-spinner wreaked havoc with his bowling in the second innings. The top-order of Graeme Smith, Alvaro Petersen and Hashim Amla were sent back to the pavilion in no time as he also cleaned up the tail later in the innings. Harbhajan’s 7/120 ensured that South Africa could never accelerate as they would have wanted to, which helped the visitors earn a draw in the match.
5/56 vs Sri Lanka (ODI | 2009)
It was the final of Compaq Cup 2009 between India and Sri Lanka in Colombo. The Men in Blue had put up a mammoth total of 319/5 on board but it was tricky considering the track was looking brilliant for batting. Sri Lanka got off to an explosive start but Harbhajan spun his web to dismiss the dangerous Dilshan. In his next over, he took the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene and the job was half done. Just when Kandamby was taking the game away, Bhajji dismissed him as well and his brilliant spell of bowling (5/56 in 9.4 overs) guided India to an impressive victory.
7/123 vs Australia (Test | 2001)
The 2nd Test between India and Australia in Kolkata was probably the Test where Harbhajan Singh actually announced his arrival to international cricket. With the visitors cruising towards a big score, the off-spinner took the all-important wicket of Matthew Hayden. He then went on become the first Indian cricketer to take a hattrick in Test cricket when he dismissed Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne on consecutive deliveries. He ended the Australian innings by taking the wicket of Steve Waugh, finishing with astonishing figures of 7/123. His spell actually gave India an outside chance of winning the match and the rest is history!
5/31 vs England (ODI | 2006)
In the 1st ODI between India and England in Delhi, the home side were all out on a paltry score of 203 and it looked like an easy win for the visitors. However, Harbhajan Singh had other plans! The off-spinner began the destruction after dismissing the aggressive Matt Prior. He then went on to take the crucial wicket of captain Andrew Flintoff and there was no stopping him after that. He took 3 more wickets in quick succession to guide India to an emphatic 39-run victory. He was awarded man of the match for his important cameo with the bat (37 off 46) and an outstanding spell of bowling (10-2-31-5).
8/84 vs Australia (Test | 2001)
The spell of Harbhajan Singh against Australia in Chennai went in the history books as one of the most exceptional bowling performances in Test cricket. After the home side got a sizeable lead in the first innings, they needed a special effort from their bowling unit to seal the victory. This is when Bhajji stepped up! Having already taken 7 wickets in the first innings, the off-spinner absolutely destroyed one of the best batting line-ups in cricket history. From Michael Slater to Adam Gilchrist to Mark Waugh to Steve Waugh, no one had any answers to Harbhajan’s bowling as he ended the inning with figures of 8/84, setting up the perfect platform for India to clinch a famous victory.