Home > News >

Harbhajan Singh: Not competing with Ravichandran Ashwin

Harbhajan-Singh-bowls-during-day-two
Harbhajan Singh is focussed on making a comeback to the Indian team © Getty Images

By Kushan Sarkar

 

New Delhi: Mar 6, 2014

Ravichandran Ashwin‘s shoddy overseas performance in recent times might have enhanced Harbhajan Singh‘s chances of a return to the national side but the experienced off-spinner says he is “not competing” with the Tamil Nadu tweaker for a place in the Indian team.

“In all these years, I have only had one competitor.

That’s me myself. I have never liked competing with anyone [read Ashwin] and it has remained like that over the years.

International sport is a lonely journey. You compete with one’s self and try to grow as a cricketer,” Harbhajan told PTI in an exclusive interview on Thursday.

“No point in competing with two, three or four people.

Try your best and leave it for others to judge. Also I don’t want to say a single word about a current India player,” Harbhajan said.

Ashwin was ineffective during India’s disastrous tours of South Africa and New Zealand and received flak from former spinners Maninder Singh and Narendra Hirwani. In fact, former captain Sourav Ganguly called for Harbhajan’s return to the national team.

Harbhajan has been out of the India team for one year but the 33-year-old spinner as always is relishing the challenge to fight his way back into national side.

Ask if he had set any time-frame for himself, he replied, “The operative word here I believe is not age but motivation.

Age is just a number. If someone can perform at 45, who will stop that fellow from playing top-level cricket.

“For me, it’s the motivation and passion to play the game at the highest level. I still want to play for India and it’s important to realise how badly you want that. I will continue playing as long as I can enjoy playing for India,” Harbhajan said.

For the man, who has nearly 700 international wickets across three international formats including 413 in Tests, it has been a “learning experience” of grinding it out in domestic cricket match after match after having enjoyed hero like-status in the Indian team for more than a decade.

“It is tough to play domestic cricket after playing more than 100 Tests [101] and 200-odd One-Day Internationals [229]. But then adverse situations are testimony to one’s character. Either you face the challenges in life head on or back out. And I am not someone to back out from challenges,” Harbhajan said.

“I am not the only person to face these tough career situations. There has been numerous examples of sportsmen fighting it out gutsily. Only person who can wriggle me out of this situation is myself. I am working hard and getting results also. There are concerned people [selectors] who will take a call as to when I can be brought back in the national side,” Harbhajan said.

Ask him about his philosophy of attacking bowling, he explains that it’s not only about having close-in fielders.

“This is a wrong concept that you become an attacking bowler by placing close-in fielders. Your field placings are based on match situations. If you are playing on a track that doesn’t offer turn and bounce, it’s useless to keep a close-in fielder. The ball will never get to him,” he said.

“If you are playing on flat tracks, fielders should be kept in positions where batsmen can offer you catch while driving. If there are four fielders outside the circle, then strategy is completely different from when you have five fielders outside the circle.

“For me, making my intent clear to the batsman before he stamps his authority is important. Playing with his mind is a way of attacking rather than setting attacking fields,” Harbhajan elaborated.

Harbhajan has so far taken six wickets in four List A matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy after 22 wickets in six first-class matches this season.

The feisty off-spinner has bowled well in the four matches so far, coming to bowl often in the Power-plays.

“For me, each and every game is an opportunity. In the last one year, I have not done badly in the domestic matches that I have played. My endeavour has been to work hard and get better at my game. After Vijay Hazare, there will be Mushtaq Ali Trophy followed by Indian Premier League (IPL). Each and every tournament is a platform to get back into India team,” Harbhajan said.

Harbhajan was disappointed that he sustained a shoulder injury just after he had got 17 wickets from the first two Ranji Trophy games and had to remain out of action for nearly six weeks.

“It wasn’t the best time to get injured. In fact there is no right time for an injury [laughs]. I had worked a lot during my pre-season and was starting to get wickets which is a result of that hardwork. But then my shoulder gave away and I had to take leave for month and a half. Ideally, I would have liked to get close to 50 wickets in Ranji Trophy,” Bhajji said.

“In fact, my comeback to competitive cricket was a good one as I nearly got a century [92] in the quarter-finals against Jammu and Kashmir. I didn’t bowl much in the match [19.2 overs in all for two wickets] as my pacers did a splendid job on a greenish track [17 of 20 J&K wickets were taken by trio of Sandeep Sharma, MS Gony and VRV Singh]“.

Harbhajan has been bowling a lot with fielding restrictions on in the One dayers and he is loving it.

“As a senior bowler and captain of the side, I need to lead from the front. I have to try and bowl in power-plays as I have the confidence to restrict the batsmen. I have bowled 12 overs in two matches as I felt I had a better chance to keep the batsmen quiet in slog overs by mixing it up. I am happy with my economy rate [4.21 runs per over] in four games,” he added.

The senior off-spinner also quashed rumours that he will be fighting Lok Sabha elections on Congress ticket.

“Yes, I was approached by a few senior leaders and asked whether I would be interested in fighting elections from Punjab. As of now, I have no interest in joining politics as I still have a lot of cricket left in me.

“Also if I join politics, I need to have time to understand as to what I am getting into. There’s time for everything and it’s the time for only focusing on my cricket career,” he concluded.

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014 (08:50 IST)   at Sydney

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Chittagong

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

More

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 22, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 87 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Melbourne

Australia won by 3 wkts

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 20, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled(Match rescheduled to 21/11/2014)

Photos

Australia vs South Africa, 3rd ODI at Canberra

Videos

SL vs Eng: Buttler practices wicketkeeping in nets

Live Cricket Score Australia vs South Africa 2014, 5th ODI at Sydney: Quinton de Kock completes first half-century against Australia

Is Dhawal Kulkarni a contender for India’s ICC World Cup 2015 squad?

World Cup 1992: Arjuna Ranatunga masterminds first ever 300-plus ODI chase

India vs Australia 2014: How crucial are India’s practice games ahead of the first Test?

Rohit Sharma: India are serious contenders

Australia Australia vs South Africa Australia vs South Africa 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand tour of UAE 2014 New Zealand vs Pakistan New Zealand vs Pakistan 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs New Zealand Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of Australia 2014 South Africa vs Australia South Africa vs Australia 2014

Australia vs South Africa 2014: Quinton de Kock scores his 5th ODI half-century

Australia vs South Africa 2014: Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock bring up 50-run partnership for opening wicket

Peter Oborne: Very important to revive international cricket in Pakistan

Live Cricket Score Australia vs South Africa 2014, 5th ODI at Sydney

Live Streaming: Australia vs South Africa, 5th ODI at Sydney

Is Dhawal Kulkarni a contender for India’s ICC World Cup 2015 squad?

World Cup 1992: Arjuna Ranatunga masterminds first ever 300-plus ODI chase

India vs Australia 2014: How crucial are India’s practice games ahead of the first Test?

Rohit Sharma: India are serious contenders

South Africa may lose momentum ahead of ICC World Cup 2015

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

681 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli vs Australian cricketers

Watch Free Live Streaming & Telecast of Indian Super League (ISL) 2014 Football 37th Match between Kerala Blasters FC vs Atletico de Kolkata

PK Tharki Chokro making: Rancho aka Aamir Khan and Munna Bhai aka Sanjay Dutt shake legs to this folk number

Simbu-Hansika’s Vaalu slated for Christmas release!

Yeh Hai Mohabbatein: Will Raman and Ishita help Mihika with her plans?

Alibaba to launch its Taobao marketplace in international markets: Reuters

8 reasons to add rosemary to your diet

eBay India ‘Black Friday’ sale kicks off today

How many calories do bananas have?

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here