Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on Friday. Bhajji, as he was famously known, picked up over 400 Test wickets for India and featured in over 100 Tests, a dream for all the cricketers. He wanted to go out on a high wearing that India shirt but some things are just not meant to be.
Known for generating awkward pace and bounce on turning Indian wickets, Harbhajan made batters dance to his tunes. Ask Ricky Ponting, a legend of that era whom Harbhajan dismissed close to a dozen times in Test cricket. Ponting never really got the measure of Harbhajan’s doosra and the bounce that he generated from his gangly 6 feet frame.
Be it Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn, Steve Waugh, Jacques Kallis, or Andrew Flintoff, Harbhajan dismissed them all.
Here’s a look at his playing career in pictures.
Harbhajan Singh made his Test debut for India in 1998 against Australia. He went on to play 103 Tests for India, taking 417 wickets.
Making his debut in 1998 against New Zealand, Harbhajan Singh featured in 264 white-ball matches for India. In 236 ODI matches, he picked put 269 wickets, while in 28 T20Is, the vetran offie scalped 27 wickets at an economy rate of 6.20 runs per over.
In 2001, Harbhajan Singh became the first Indian to take a hat-trick in Test cricket.
In 2008, Harbhajan found hismself engulfed in one of the ugliest cricketing controversy - the monkey-gate saga. Indian team and the team management rallied behind the Punjab spinner after Cricket Australia wanted to ban him for the upcoming Tests. In ‘Playing It My Way’, Sachin Tendulkar wrote “Anil Kumble (the then captain) and I took the lead and it was unanimously decided that we would boycott the tour if Bhajji’s ban was upheld.”
Harbhajan Singh, the batsman, came to the fore to rescue the team, as he hit a six of Shoaib Akhtar, and another of Mohammad Amir in India's victory over Pakistan in 2010 Asia Cup clash. In his 236 ODI matches, the veteran off-spinner also contributed 1,237 runs with the bat.
Harbhajan Singh picked up nine wickets in nine matches in India’s victorious 2011 World Cup campaign. He was also part of the team that won the 2007 T20 World Cup.
Harbhajan Singh started his IPL career with Mumbai Indians, then shifted to CSK, and finished his career with Kolkata Knight Riders. The off-spinner picked up 150 wickets in the Indian Premier League, most of them for Mumbai.