Harbhajan’s feat against Australia in 2001 prompted Ashwin to bowl off-spin

Harbhajan Singh was India’s premier off-spinner till Ravichandran Ashwin came in the scene and took the limelight. Since Ashwin’s rise, Harbhajan has struggled to find a place in the national side and there have been many speculations over the relationship that these two champion off-spinners share.

Ashwin cleared the air and called Harbhajan one of his role model. In a report from PTI, Ashwin was quoted as saying, “I wish I could go on talking about this topic. I think he was one of my role models when I started bowling off-spin. I was an opening batsman who used to bowl fast-medium with the new ball. Then an injury prompted me to stay away from the game.”

Harbhajan was lethal in the 2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy where he picked up 32 Australian wickets and played the most crucial role helping India win the series 2-1. Ashwin recalled that feat and credited Harbhajan’s performance in that series, for him to take up off-spin.

“I started bowling off-spin after seeing what he [Harbhajan] did in 2001 [against Australia] and that is where it began. India needed a role model like Harbhajan Singh back then, somebody who could start winning games for India with the ball. That is where my love for off-spin began,” he added.