Harbhajan Singh is one player who is known for lifting the spirit of the team with his jovial nature    Getty Images
Harbhajan Singh is one player who is known for lifting the spirit of the team with his jovial nature Getty Images

Cricket is referred as a funny game. The context in which this is said means that the game changes in a short span of time. Be it any format, the game is never done and dusted till the last ball is bowled. The game is played intensely by all the teams. Every team plays the game with all seriousness on the field but have a few characters in their line-up to calm the nerves of their players in tense encounters and keep the atmosphere of the dressing room at ease before key clashes. Harbhajan Singh, who turned 36 on Sunday, is one such character who is not only known to trouble the batsmen with his off spin but also responsible for keeping the environment light which helps in its own way. On his birthday, Aditya Sahay shares few of his antics or one liners which is widely remembered by his teammates and fans ALSO READ:The joy of watching Harbhajan Singh bat

In the Tri-Nation series played between Zimbabwe (hosts), New Zealand and India, Sourav Ganguly and co. faced Stephen Fleming-led New Zealand in their first encounter of the series. New Zealand recovered from an awful start and reached 215 after being 36 for 5 at one stage. India should have won the match comfortably but got bundled out for a paltry 161 to hand over a simple win to the opponents. The whole team succumbed to the pace and swing of the New Zealand bowlers as only Irfan Pathan and JP Yadav scored fifties.

After the match, the dressing room atmosphere was obviously not very pleasant as India had the match for a long period. Harbhajan, on the other hand, came with his best gags to lift the spirit of the team after a terrible loss. He asked one of the staffs to take out the bats from all the players kit. As a result, they had 110 odd bats, among 15 players, while, ironically, their score was just over 50 runs from the collective number of bats. This evoked much needed laughter in the dressing room and in the end India came back strong in the remaining three matches to qualify for the final.

Caricature: Sudhir Shetty
Caricature: Sudhir Shetty

During Ganguly s captaincy, Harbhajan did not even spare his senior player and skipper. He, along with Yuvraj Singh, got the better of Ganguly taking the help of other team members. The two combined to almost drive captain Ganguly to tears by designing a fake newspaper which had some highly damaging comments made by the skipper. The matter came up at the team meeting where there was a rebellion of sorts by the players against the captain for letting them down so badly in the media. Ganguly pleaded his innocence, but to no avail. After a long time it was revealed that the Bengal Tiger was fooled by everyone, including the always serious, Rahul Dravid.

Ahead of Team India s all important semi-final versus West Indies in the ICC World Twenty20 2016, Ravichandran Ashwin and Harbhajan were interviewed, which showed the funny side of the senior off-spinner again. Ashwin challenged his senior pro to speak in Tamil as fluently as possible. He said one line and it was repeated by Harbhajan in Tamil. He somehow succeeded and in return gave a difficult line to Ashwin to try his hand in Punjabi. Ashwin muttered a few times but laughed it off, showing his helplessness in speaking Punjabi. This video also shows how two players, who are also considered as competitors in world cricket, actually behave of the field and the camaraderie they share is very friendly. ALSO READ:Harbhajan’s contribution to IND cricket cannot be underestimated

After Harbhajan tied the knot with Bollywood actress, Geeta Basra, wishes poured in from all corners. His best friend, Yuvraj, also congratulated him from his official Twitter account indicating, in a humourous way, by taking a dig at him that the off-spinner cannot afford to bowl the doosra off the field. In return, Harbhajan came up with an equally hilarious tweet and told Yuvraj to join the party and get married soon and stop playing the cut shot and play straight off the field as well. This should the funny sides of both the players and the bond they share on and off the field.

Laughing at yourself is a talent and Harbhajan not only does that bravely but also comes up with his sarcastic, pun-intended one liners from time to time which not only engages his fans and also keeps the environment of the Indian cricket team in a light manner. Kudos to the tweaker as there is always pressure representing India and playing for a country wherein cricket is not just a game, it is a religion .

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)