ICC T20 World Cup 2012: The ‘Turbanator’ returns

Updated: Sep 26, 2012, 18:10 PM IST

Ankit Banerjee

It is said, ‘Form is temporary, class is permanent’. Very true in the case of the protagonist, Harbhajan Singh, fondly known as `Bhajji`. The ‘Turbanator’ bagged a four-for against the World T20 defending champions England and won the game for India. After 14 years of bathing in the glory of International Cricket, this Jalandhar boy was being bombarded by the fickle Indian media for his performance slump and his inclusion in the Indian side. But, with his stupendous display of his extensive repertoire of tricks, the `Turbanator` has for sure silenced all his critics. Bhajji`s performance has certainly ended Dhoni`s woes as well. Harbhajan`s performance is set to boost the Indian bowling unit ahead of the Super Eights. With this high potent performance, India will look a totally different unit in the Super Eights.

As an Indian cricketer playing for his country for 14 years, one is bound to be subjected to criticism. This isn’t the first instance when question marks have been raised about the Indian offie, but this lad from Punjab knows how to deal with them. Now with both Ashwin and Harbhajan in form, India will be hot contenders for lifting the trophy. The ‘Ash-Bhaj’ duo will be too hot for other teams to handle. In this scenario, Dhoni can also afford to be a bit flexible in using the two, he can either use them in tandem or give the new ball to Ashwin and hold Bhajji back or he can start off with Bhajji and later on introduce the mystery of Ashwin.

Over the past decade and a half, this wily offie has notched up some memorable performances which have been tattooed in Indian hearts. One performance that straightaway comes to mind is the 2000-01 Calcutta Test match , India versus Australia ,where Bhajji ran through the Steve Waugh-led Aussie side in the final day of the Test match to hand India a win from the jaws of defeat.

Harbhajan Singh Plaha made his debut for India in 1998. But his career was under threat because of investigations made into the legality of his bowling action, as well as several disciplinary incidents. However, in 2001, an injured Anil Kumble made way for a raw Harbhajan Singh. Bhajji`s career was resuscitated after Indian captain Sourav Ganguly called for his inclusion in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy team. In that series victory over Australia, Harbhajan established himself as the team`s leading spinner by taking 32 wickets thus becoming the leading wicket taker of the series. There was no looking back for this tweaker from there on.

If we closely analyse Singh`s career, we will realise it is full off with ups and downs, a real ‘bad boy’ saga of cricket. In the Australian summer of early 2008, a ban was imposed on him by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for racially vilifying Andrew Symonds. He was also the protagonist of the infamous Bhajji-Sree slapgate row.

Now at 32, Harbhajan is undoubtedly India`s most successful off-spinner ever. Cricket pundits have always looked at him as someone who possesses the unique quality of running through sides and on low slow sub-continental pitches he is a handful. Harbie`s brief stint with English county Essex also helped this pro re-discover himself and also got time to correct the minor mistakes he was committing over and over again.

With Harbhajan striking top form at the right time, things are looking bright for Team India and he is also no mug with the willow in his hand, hence this will provide the all-rounder option for `Captain Cool` Dhoni. Our protagonist comes across as someone, who seems to perform well when he has the confidence going for him. When Harbhajan scalps one early into his spell, one can see the jump in his stride, he then tends to loop the ball and allows it to spin, the approach towards the crease has a beautiful motion, and you get the feeling he can strike with every ball.

Hence in my opening line I mentioned, ‘form is temporary and class is permanent’ because he is a match-winner and has survived the change of time and adjusted. It is very easy for so- called experts to sit in air conditioned studio's and criticise the Turbanator` and fill their pockets. Have they even achieved half the accolades he has? Harbhajan is one killer option in the Indian armory. Purists might mutter about a lack of loop and flight, but he is very much a product of his times where short boundaries, heavy bats and shorter forms afford little leverage to slow bowlers, but `Turbanator has adapted like no one. LET`S HAIL THE KING!