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Harbhajan Singh admits to feeling the heat after returning to domestic cricket

Harbhajan Singh last played for India in 2016, in a T20I against UAE, and has been sidelined for the national team since the astronomical rise of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja

cricket Updated: May 26, 2017 14:51 IST
HT Correspondent
Harbhajan Singh has led the Punjab team in the domestic competition over the past few seasons.
Harbhajan Singh has led the Punjab team in the domestic competition over the past few seasons.(HT Photo)

India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has admitted that grinding through the domestic level even after so many years of international cricket is both disappointing and challenging. He feels a few domestic cricketers are better players of spin bowling than the big names of international cricket.

Singh, who has played 103 Test matches for India and represented the country in over 200 ODIs, last donned the national jersey in 2016 in Dhaka against UAE. It was in 2015 that he represented the country in the other two formats and have had a dip in form ever since. He is also the third-highest wicket-taker for India after Anil Kumble (619) and Kapil Dev (417).

Read | IPL 2017: Harbhajan Singh becomes third Indian to complete 200 T20 wickets

“It does get to you. You ask yourself if it is worth doing this again. You know you have been what (kind of) bowler and the matches you have won for India. But what are the options?” Singh told ESPNCricinfo in an interview recently.

“Even if you are motivated, you still have to push your limits because sometimes nowadays these domestic players are better players of spin bowling than the international players. There are very few players (at the international level) who play spin well.”

Ashwin, Jadeja’s rise

He has enjoyed a good stint in the Indian Premier League though, lifting the title with Mumbai Indians this season besides picking up eight wickets in 11 matches at an average of 33.25. His economy rate of 6.48 was the second-best among players who had played at least 11 matches in the season.

Read | Harbhajan Singh slams fan, defends use of Hindi

However, with the deadly duo Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja leading the bowling attack for India, chances of a comeback for Singh in the highest level look bleak as even in matches where the team has opted to go with three spinners, chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and Amit Mishra have come in.

‘Tough challenge’

“It’s very tough getting back to domestic cricket and putting the same effort. You feel you will go there and run through sides. As a batsman, you (think you) will score hundreds just because you played at the international level. But it doesn’t happen that way,” he added.

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“When you return to domestic cricket, you have to keep your ego aside. You get disappointed, but then you pick yourself up and say, ‘Okay, let’s come back stronger next day and do it again.’ Be it IPL or domestic cricket or international cricket, the approach is always the same: to take wickets. It’s not like it happens only with me. Even an Anil Kumble has to go through it.”