From announcing his arrival with a stunning performance against Australia in the epic 2001 Test series, to being part of India’s victory in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, Harbhajan Singh is surely one of the greatest spinners to have played the game.
A colourful character off the field as well, Harbhajan always reserved his best against the Aussies and was one of the match-winners for India, especially in home conditions. He has slipped away from the radar as far as the national team is concerned, but over the years has given some memorable performances for the side. In 103 Test matches, he has picked up 417 wickets, while in 236 ODIs, he has bagged 269 scalps. In 28 T20Is, the off-spinner has bagged 25 wickets.
As he turns 41, we take a look at a few unknown facts about his career and life.
Wanted to become a truck driver
The man from Jalandhar wanted to head across to Canada and take up the job of a truck driver in order to take care of his family. However, he was persuaded to stay back and stick to cricket by his sisters. He worked hard on his game and this yielded dividends. In the 2000 Ranji season, he picked up 28 wickets in only 5 matches and this brought him back into national reckoning.
Wreaks havoc against the Aussies
Against Australia, Harbhajan carried his form and picked up 32 wickets across the three matches and became the first Indian to grab a hat-trick as India made a resounding comeback in the second Test match at the Eden Gardens. The side went on to win the series in Chennai and stopped the Australian juggernaut.
Wanted to become a batsman
Harbhajan was always a handy batsman lower down the order and this can be attributed to the fact that he started his career as a batsman.
When he started his international career, there were suspicions over his bowling action, but it was duly cleared by the International Cricket Council.
DSP in Punjab Police
Owing to his achievements on the field, he was given the rank of a DSP in Punjab Police in 2002.
Slapped S Sreesanth in IPL 2008
In the inaugural edition of IPL in 2008, controversy broke when Harbhajan Singh, playing for Mumbai Indians, lost his cool and slapped S Sreesanth, who was playing for Kings XI Punjab. This came after he was also suspended for an alleged racial slur directed at Andrew Symonds in what came to be known as the ‘monkey gate scandal’.