Picked to play against England in the first two Tests, Harbhajan Singh is keen to play Punjab’s next match against Bengal at the PCA Stadium here from November 9 to 12.
“I want to play and I’ll seek permission from the Board,” said the off-spinner, who sat out 10 Tests before making a comeback.
When critics doubted and he spent days in solitude, Harbhajan learnt to be philosophical about life and cricket. “It was tough; probably the toughest phase of my career. I learnt a lot during that period,” he reflected. What was the most important lesson? “Not to take anything for granted, anything!”
Harbhajan, with 406 wickets in 98 Tests, lost his place to R. Ashwin and resolved to improve. “You may have played for many years but competition is tough. You become the second option. I never lost hope but obviously injury and loss of form made it difficult. I lost a bit of confidence too and worked to regain my place. I had set certain standards and I knew it would require hard work to get back.”
Harbhajan confessed it was his inner strength that drove him to achieve his targets for the season. “More than the criticism that I was finished and had lost the zeal to bowl it was my inner voice that hurt me more. It kept reminding me that I had a lot of cricket left in me and I had to give it a go. I rediscovered the faith in myself and have got back to where I belong. I am fitter, stronger and experienced enough to face any challenge.”
It was a hard grind for the 32-year-old Harbhajan; bowling in the nets back home in Jalandhar. And that made Harbhajan realise the importance of being recalled.
“I am very relieved to be back in the team. It is actually a very big moment for me, a sort of rebirth in cricket. It feels nice and I hope I’ll deliver and win matches as I had in the past.”
Looking at the series against England, Harbhajan said, “This is something that I missed. I missed playing for India and this comeback means a lot. All this while I was waiting for this chance to wear the whites. It’ll be great to play alongside Sachin (Tendulkar) and all my mates. It is special really.”
On his role in the Tests ahead, Harbhajan noted, “My role will not change. It was always to bowl well and take wickets and it will remain so.”