Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Harbhajan Singh Is Back

I've been a great fan of Harbhajan Singh ever since he took it to Ricky Ponting with both bat and mouth during Team India's home series against the Aussies in 1998. He has unmatched passion for his country and pride in his play. Sometimes an eruption of this volcano of emotion forces him to do things that are not in his or his team's best interests: slap opposing players, mouth off to players who lift their games when sledged and least but not least, bowl fast and flat in Test match situations when he should be delivering with guile, loop and magic.

Over the past couple of series, sure he's got the odd 4-fer or 5-fer, but he has not been as consistent enough to inspire confidence that he can be depended on to consistently bowl match-winning Test match spells. With this in mind, I thought this tour of New Zealand would reveal a lot about Team India's premier spinner in the post-Anil Kumble era.

Thankfully, for the immediate future of Indian cricket Harbhajan Singh has not only stepped up to the plate in terms of results, but more importantly he has unveiled a revamped attitude. While he should be applauded for the change in his outlook, I must admit that I believe it took far too long to happen.

The naysayers will point to the lack of class and talent in the Kiwi ranks - granted, Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder are not Ponting and Smith. However, they have both managed to score a couple of centuries during this series and have been involved in attacking partnerships that have frustrated the Indians for extended periods. During such times, I expected Harbhajan to resort to his ODI-style of bowling - fast and flat. Unexpectedly, he persevered with the loop and flight, and eventually got his man.

This new attitude will undoubtedly be tested by batsmen and batting line-ups of much higher pedigree during the next 12-24 months. This series has hopefully inspired Harbhajan to continue with this reformed ways. This series has hopefully reinforced for Harbhajan that he still has the magic.

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