For a man who has been in the centre of so many raging controversies, it was strange to see Harbhajan Singh being just another normal player at practice on Friday. From the looks of it, and he has admitted it in recent times, he has mellowed down from the feisty character he was when he got involved in two of the biggest controversies to hit the game — 'monkeygate' and 'slapgate'.
Probably, the biggest lesson for Harbhajan from it all has been that there is no closure for such mistakes; they follow you throughout. If he thought the embarrassment of monkeygate had ended with the 2007-08 Australia series, he was made to relive it all over again when Andrew Symonds became his teammate at Mumbai Indians, and once again this season when Ricky Ponting became his skipper.
Similar has been his experience with the 'slapgate' row with former India teammate Sreesanth. Five years after the dark night at Mohali when Harbhajan had slapped Sreesanth in a fit of rage triggered by his on-field anctics, the old wounds have been reopened.
He declined to speak to the media at the stadium about Sreesanth's latest comments and presented a calm exterior while going through the drills. He trained the hardest of the lot, and then spent a lot of time taking catchess from fielding coach, Jonty Rhodes, before finishing with a series of sprints and excercises with the trainer. The out of control Harbhajan seems to have reined him in.