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Good days are back for the amiable offie

cricket Updated: Mar 21, 2009 23:52 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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On Friday, with India looking for seven more New Zealand wickets, Harbhajan Singh told his captain he wanted a five-for against New Zealand. Barring Bangladesh, Harbhajan has secured this bowling distinction against all major teams, and he would have been happiest when his prayers were answered the very next day.

Despite his 321 wickets, the frustrating aspect about Harbhajan has been his tendency to ease into restrictive mode when things aren't quite going his way. While one way to look at it was that he kept things quiet when not picking up wickets, the flipside was that you knew just what he was capable of, and failed to understand why he opted for the safety-first route.

The other thing about Harbhajan was how different he was when he picked up an early wicket. More often than not, early success meant that the full bag of tricks would be on display. When he is happy out in the middle, things begin to happen for him and the team. It's no coincidence that he forms one half of some the most colourful friendships in the team.

Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan share a unique bond, one where respect forms the basis but fun is never far away. Not two days ago, with Tendulkar batting as only he can, the duo ducked out of the plush team hotel to pick up some fresh kababs from an Afghan roadside eatery. It’s not the sort of thing you associate with Tendulkar, and yet with Harbhajan around, doing something for a lark can never be ruled out.

Yuvraj Singh is another person you can often spot with Harbhajan, sipping a coffee at Starbucks while the rest of the team are at an optional practice. The two share a strong bond and it's impossible to forget how Yuvraj sprung to Harbhajan's defence when questions were raised over the offie's commitment by Greg Chappell.

For Harbhajan, whose 6 for 63 finished off a win set up by Sachin’s 160, happy days are here again.