Azhar was having lunch; Sachin was bowling: Harbhajan Singh recalls net session in Mohali where he was spotted
Harbhajan Singh recalled that he was nervous when he was first asked to come up and bowl in the nets during a Test match in Mohali. His performance was noticed by Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar.Updated: Jun 12, 2020 15:52 IST
India veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh believes that his ability to bowl ‘ doosra’ ensured that he made it into the Indian team early on in his career. In a recent interview, Harbhajan recalled the nets session during a Test match in Mohali in which he was able to catch the attention of Sachin Tendulkar, Ajay Jadeja, and the then captain Mohammad Azharuddin.
“The doosra helped me in getting selected early on in the Indian team. There were not many bowlers bowling the doosra at that time. That delivery of mine was slightly better than others. I used to call it leg-cutter, it was named as doosra because Moin Khan from behind the stumps used to shout to Saqlain Mushtaq ‘Saqi doosra daal de, doosra daal de’, so it got famous. That leg-cutter helped me in getting into the Indian team,” Harbhajan said in a chat with former India cricketer Aakash Chopra on his chat show Akash Vani.
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Harbhajan further went on to recall that he was nervous when he was first asked to come up to bowl at the nets during a Test match in Mohali.
“I was called in at the nets in Mohali during a Test match. They said ‘you come in here, we want to have a look at you’. So I got scared of what will happen. By the time I reached there, the net sessions were almost completed.
“Debasish Mohanty was batting at the nets. Azhar bhai, Sachin, they all had already had their batting session. I remember Azzu bhai was having lunch. When I reached there, they said ‘oh, he’s a youngster, let him bowl a few deliveries at least’,” he recalled.
“When I was bowling, Sachin Tendulkar was standing by my side. He was bowling at the nets. I had bowled 7-8 deliveries to Mohanty and he got out 4-5 times. He was Mohanty after all, not Sachin Tendulkar,” the off-spinner recalled.
“Then, suddenly Ajay Jadeja saw me, he called Azzu bhai ‘look at this boy’, so he also saw me. Then Sachin spoke to me and he said ‘keep your focus on the game. I wish you all the best, I hope you play for India’,” Harbhajan further said.
Sachin Tendulkar’s words of advice did wonders for Harbhajan as he always kept it with him throughout his career.
“Sachin’s words of advise were to keep my focus on the game. From that day I decided that I have to keep not only 100 percent, but 120 percent focus on my game. Because I realised that if I want to play for India, then I have to put in even more effort. That was the day when I was spotted, and a year later, I was playing Test cricket for India,” the bowler said.
Harbhajan made his Test debut in 1998 against Australia at Bengaluru. The biggest turning point in his career was the 2001 home series against Australia where he picked up 32 wickets in three matches including becoming the first Indian to take a Test match hat-trick.
In his impeccable career, Harbhajan Singh, member of 2007 T20I World Cup and 2011 ODI World Cup teams, has played 103 Tests for India in which he picked up 417 wickets at an average of 32.46. The bowler also played 236 ODIs in which he picked up 269 wickets at an average of 33.35. He has also played 28 T20Is for India in which he has taken 25 wickets.