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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

Harbhajan Singh wants his daughter see him play international cricket

Harbhajan Singh, the India and Mumbai Indians off-spinner, says family life and his newborn kept him away from cricket last year. But he wants to return and play ODI cricket

ipl-2017 Updated: Apr 26, 2017 19:43 IST
Harbhajan Singh wants his daughter to see him play international cricket for India.
Harbhajan Singh wants his daughter to see him play international cricket for India. (HT File Photo)

In a format where economy rate is as valuable as wickets, Mumbai Indians’ Harbhajan Singh has been the standout bowler in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season. (IPL 2017 FULL COVERAGE)

The veteran off-spinner, who has maintained an impressive economy rate of less than six runs per over in seven games so far, looks a rejuvenated bowler in the IPL after having missed domestic cricket. (IPL 2017 SCHEDULE)

Excerpts from an interview:

You have been one of the most effective bowlers in the IPL. What has been the key to your performance?

Harbhajan: I am keeping things simple, reading the batsmen and bowling according to the situation, instead of worrying about what shots the batsman will play.

In this format, spinners often think they will get away with faster balls. That perception is wrong because faster balls are easier to put away. Spinners have a big role in this competition, but only if they are looking to spin the ball and willing to take chances by bowling slower through the air. They have to keep the batsman guessing about where the ball will land and that can happen only if you are trying to deceive the batsman in the air. It will happen for only two or three balls in an over. But it has worked for me over the years.

The old enthusiasm is back, so what changed?

Harbhajan: Nothing. I took time off and spent it with my family, especially with my daughter. Now she is a bit older. My wife understands I have to focus on following my cricket routines. I want my daughter to see me play international cricket and that’s kept me going. Cricket is part of my life. But my wife and daughter are my life.

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It must be tough being out of the India team. How are you handling this phase?

Harbhajan: Obviously, it has been tough. Last year, my wife was due and my baby was born so I didn’t play domestic cricket. Had I played, I am sure I would have played some of the Test matches at home. And on the kind of wickets we are playing, where the ball spins from the first ball itself, I would have got a few wickets. This was rarely (wickets that support spin) the case earlier when we played.

I am working hard on my game and looking forward to making a comeback in the one-day squad. I can deliver at the highest level against the best in the business.

Harbhajan Singh and wife, actress Geeta Basra, welcomed their baby daughter Hinaya in July last year.
Harbhajan Singh and wife, actress Geeta Basra, welcomed their baby daughter Hinaya in July last year. ( HT Photo )

After achieving so much success early in your career, was there a phase when you struggled to motivate yourself?

Harbhajan: Honestly, playing domestic cricket itself is a challenge. It is not easy for someone like Virender Sehwag or Yuvraj Singh or a Sourav Ganguly, or anyone who has played at this (highest) level for 10 to 15 years to make a comeback by proving yourself at the domestic level. It is a bit hard to motivate yourself but that is the only way.

You can take it as a challenge or you can think you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone. But to play with the same intensity at the domestic level is a bit difficult because the buzz is not there even though there is competition. However, that’s the only way you can make a comeback and you have to get up and do things all over again. I love playing cricket and people who love doing something will do anything for what they love.

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What’s your next goal?

Harbhajan: To make a comeback to the Indian team. I am as good as anybody playing international cricket. I need to back myself and get there.

Are you hopeful of making the cut for Champions Trophy?

Harbhajan: I have done what I could have done. I hope people are watching. I don’t need to show anymore what I can do. People are there to decide on the best combination. Whether I am there or not, I want India to do well. If not this time, I will get there later.

First Published: Apr 26, 2017 19:38 IST

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