If the saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” had a face, then Indian legends like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Harbhajan Singh would make the perfect fits. While these veterans showcased their talents against every opposition and in almost every condition, there used to be that extra spark when they were up against the best team of their generation – Australia. Talking on the topic, former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan and batsman Suresh Raina, recalled how the Australians feared off-spinner Harbhajan Singh.
Irfan Pathan was hosting Suresh Raina in an Instagram live session on Saturday evening and the former teammates discussed Harbhajan Singh’s impact when the latter commented during their session.
“Bhajju paa was one of the legends of the game, name me a better offspinner than him in world cricket, communication should’ve been better with him too. He’s a legend, played 100 test matches,” said Irfan.
“He’s (Harbhajan) a fighter, won us matches in Australia. Australians always used to say stay away from Harbhajan Singh,” Raina added
“They used to hold their ears upon hearing Harbhajan Singh’s name,” said Irfan.
Harbhajan, who last played for India in a T20I in 2016, is still the country’s highest wicket-taker among active cricketers in Test matches with 417 wickets in 103 Tests.
Harbhajan, who won the 2007 World T20 and 2011 ODI World Cup, had a brilliant record against Australia. In 18 Tests against the Kangaroos, Harbhajan took 95 wickets at an average of 29.95.
He became the first Indian to claim a Test hat-trick in the second Test against Australia in 2001 at the Eden Gardens Kolkata. In that three-match series which India won 2-1, Harbhajan had picked up 32 wickets at an average of 17.03.
Such was Harbhajan’s class with the ball that he had developed a habit of dismissing one of the greatest batsmen ever, Ricky Ponting.
“I think Ricky Ponting used to get out just by looking at my face. I didn’t even need to bowl at him. When he came to play for Mumbai Indians, I thought he would improve after playing me in the nets. But even there I got him out 5-6 times,” Harbhajan had recently told Rohit Sharma in a live session.
Irfan also recalled the controversy involving Harbhajan Singh and Australia’s Andrew Symonds during India’s 2007-08 tour and said the off-spinner had cameras all over him.
“Harbhajan used to tell me that I’m not Harbhajan Singh, I feel like Michael Jackson. In the 2008 series media used to follow him everywhere. From ground to hotel to the mall. He wasn’t even spared in the toilets of the mall,” he added.
Harbhajan would have been representing the most successful team in IPL history, the Chennai Super Kings in the 2020 edition, had the coronavirus pandemic not postponed the tournament indefinitely.