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IPL 2019 | Narain: Harbhajan Reveals Trickery of Old Hasn’t Deserted Him Yet

Harbhajan finished his spell conceding 20 runs in his 4 overs but more crucially he had rattled the RCB top-order picking three wickets – including those of the two greats Kohli and De Villiers.

Nikhil Narain |Cricketnext |March 24, 2019, 10:22 AM IST
IPL 2019 | Narain: Harbhajan Reveals Trickery of Old Hasn’t Deserted Him Yet

It was a forgettable day for the famed RCB batting line-up in Chennai as they were bamboozled by the CSK spin trio of Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja and were skittled for a paltry 70 – their joint second-lowest score in IPL history in the tournament opener on Saturday.

Harbhajan, who was introduced in the powerplay, led the charge and saw the back of the RCB skipper, Virat Kohli in the 4th over of the innings – caught at deep- midwicket off a short delivery – a lucky break for the off-spinner. He then foxed Moeen Ali with a length ball which just held up on the England batsman who was early into the shot and could just manage to lob a simple catch back to the bowler. Harbhajan was not done yet. He induced AB de Villiers into playing a sweep shot and with the ball not coming onto the bat on a slow Chepauk wicket, the South African top-edged a catch to a diving Ravindra Jadeja at mid-wicket.

Harbhajan finished his spell conceding 20 runs in his 4 overs but more crucially he had rattled the RCB top-order picking three wickets – including those of the two greats Kohli and De Villiers.

He also bowled as many as 13 dot deliveries in his quota of 4 overs. Not surprisingly, Harbhajan holds the record of having delivered the maximum number of dot balls in IPL history (1141).

RCB could not quite recover from this initial setback. Imran Tahir (3-9 in 4 overs) and Jadeja (2-15 in 4 overs) ran through the middle and lower-order and they were bowled out for 70 in 17.1 overs – the joint sixth-lowest score in IPL history.

The spin trio combined to take 8 wickets conceding just 44 runs in their 12 overs – only once before spinners accounted for 8 wickets in an innings in an IPL match (CSK vs Deccan Chargers at Vizag in 2012.

(AP Images) (AP Images)

But it was really Harbhajan who broke the backbone and the spirit of the RCB top order. Tahir and Jadeja just finished the job.

The Indian off-spinner became the joint-highest wicket-taker against the RCB (with Ashish Nehra) in IPL. He now aggregates 23 wickets in 22 matches (78 overs) against the Challengers at an average of 24.52 and strike rate of 20.3. His economy rate of 7.23 against them is also quite impressive. Harbhajan’s wicket-tally (against RCB) is the second-highest amongst all the franchises he has played against in the IPL.

Harbhajan has a good overall record at Chepauk. He has picked 12 wickets at the venue at 24.17 apiece and a strike rate of 21 and an excellent economy rate of 6.90 in the IPL.

Harbhajan is the joint fourth-highest wicket-taker in IPL history. He has picked 137 wickets in 147 bowling innings at 26.82 apiece and a strike rate of 22.8. He is also one of the most restrictive bowlers in IPL history with an economy rate of 7.03.

Harbhajan Singh has been part of three IPL title wins with Mumbai Indians and played a pivotal role in two of them. In 2013, he was the highest wicket-taker for the franchise and picked 24 wickets in 19 innings at 19 apiece at an excellent economy rate of 6.51 whereas in 2015, he picked 18 wickets at 24.77 apiece.

Though he is an all-time great in the history of the league, Harbhajan has not been amongst the wickets in recent years and hasn’t in fact picked a total of 10 wickets in any of the previous three seasons.

That might change this time around.

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