July 30, 2021
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Comeback Trail

Picking Up The Pieces

'I was faced with choices in the last few months, either to paint the world black and point fingers at everyone or silently go about picking myself up from the floor and do what I do best.'

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Picking Up The Pieces

Harbhajan Singh is prepared to trade economy for wickets when he makes his India comeback in the inaugural Twenty-20 World Championships in South Africa next month.

"I wouldn't worry too much about economy in the Twenty20 World Cup, you would go for runs anyway. If I pick up a few wickets along the way, I would be satisfied," says the Punjab off-spinner, one of the meanest bowlers in world cricket.

Harbhajan is aware the last thing a bowler could do when playing in the latest form of the game is worry about conceding runs.

"Twenty20 is not for bowlers, especially spinners. Just 20 overs and full 10 wickets at their disposal, teams have a license to go after bowlers," the 27-year-old said in London.

"With a maximum of four overs to bowl in a match, a bowler ought to have done well if his economy rate is 7-8 runs per over."

This from a bowler as miserly as one could have ever seen.

Harbhajan's economy rate of 4.15 per over is better than all but two of the top 10 bowlers in the ICC rankings -- Shaun Pollock (3.71) and Muttiah Muralitharan (3.85).

His economy rate of 2.81 in Tests also compares favourably with other three great spinners of our times -- Murali (2.40), Shane Warne (2.65) and Anil Kumble (2.66).

But that did not stop India's fifth highest wicket-taker, with a Test tally of 238 scalps, from being left out of the Test and ODI teams for the tour of UK.

In fact, chairman of selectors Dilip Vengsarkar was on record saying that Harbhajan needed to pick more wickets instead of being only containing.

So, the Twenty-20, that would have been otherwise a nightmare, is giving hope to the 'Turbanator'.

That he has been among wickets - 31 from five matches - for Surrey in English county cricket would also helps Harbhajan's confidence.

"Surrey is fighting relegation in the county championship and all such teams are keen to gain maximum points. Thus green tops are being prepared. As a spinner the odds are stacked against you but I'm happy to have done well," he said.

Harbhajan would fly straight from England to South Africa next month after he has done his bit for Surrey in the remaining two-three fixtures of the county.

The last few months have been bittersweet for Harbhajan. A few peers and seniors have come out in support but most others, supposedly in his close network, have behaved as if he never existed.

"I was faced with choices in the last few months - either to paint the world black and point fingers at everyone or silently go about picking myself up from the floor and do what I do best. I am happy I went for the second option," he said.

"In 2000, when I was out of the team, my list of friends had really come down. Now it's been pruned even further. Ironically, I am grateful to God for this spell. It has made me a better person, reflective and realistic."


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