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Harbhajan SinghBorn: 3 July 1980, Jullundur
Major Teams: Punjab, India.
Known As: Harbhajan Singh
Batting Style: Right Hand Bat
Bowling Style: Right Arm Off Break
Harbhajan's elevation to the Indian cap in 1998 was a major surprise to the world because the 18-year-old was relatively unknown outside Punjab. An attacking spinner in the classical mould, he has not yet established himself in the side. The fact that he has not fully enjoyed the confidence of the selectors is one reason for this but his action being deemed suspect by the ICC has also stalled his progress. A stint with former England off spinner Fred Titmus seemed to have done him some good. The one quality that Harbhajan Singh is well known for is that he is a fighter to the core. For a purveyor of slow off spinners, his attitude is aggressive. He is back among the probables for the series against Australia - the opponents against whom he made his Test debut three years before - it is to be hoped that his best results could lie ahead since he has youth on his side. Harbhajan Singh's road to glory has not been an easy one. The 20-year-old off-spinner from Jullunder has been plagued by allegations of a jerk in his bowling action and insinuations of him having attitude problems. After almost losing his job with employers Indian Airlines and being saddened immensely by the death of his father, Harbhajan was reborn as a cricketer. Training doubly hard, the fiery youngster readied himself for the touring Australians. In the absence of ace legspinner Anil Kumble, India were desperately on the look out for a strike bowler. Bowling with a high arm action, extracting good bounce and considerable turn on good Test match wickets, Harbhajan Singh destroyed the Aussies by scalping 32 wickets in the three Test series. Harbhajan's performance had outdone the previous best wicket tally for an Indian in a Test series against Australia, beating legendary left arm spinner Bishen Singh Bedi's haul of 31 wickets in 1977-78 in Australia. What makes the feat especially commendable is the fact that Harbhajan notched up his wickets in three Tests as against Bedi's five. The most special moment in the series for Harbhajan was undoubtedly the hat-trick he snared in the first innings of the second Test at Kolkata when he dismissed Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne off successive deliveries. In the three Tests, Harbhajan returned figures of 4/132, 13/196 and 15/217, thereby leading India to a famous 2-1 victory.
In the course of the series, Harbhajan was constantly aggressive, giving back in good measure any on field chatter he got from the Aussies. With the bat too Harbhajan struck some lusty blows, earning kudos from teammates, scribes and selectors alike. The arrival of Harbhajan at the international stage as a force to reckon with has been a whiff of fresh air for Indian cricket. India were struggling in the bowling department and Harbhajan has answered the call handsomely.
Test Debut: India v Australia at Bangalore, 3rd Test, 1997/98
ODI Debut: India v New Zealand at Sharjah, Coca-Cola Cup, 1997/98