|Nick Name:||Bhajji and Turbanator|
|Height:||180 cm (5' 11'')|
|Birth Day:||July 3, 1980|
|Birth Place:||Jalandhar, India|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|180 cm (5' 11'')||N/A||Black||Dark Brown||N/A||N/A|
He made his professional debut with Punjab in 1997.
Harbhajan made his first-class cricket debut in late 1997 against Services, during the 1997–98 Ranji Trophy season. He took a total of 3/35 in an innings win but was dropped back to the Under-19s the following week. He then took 5/75 and 7/44 in two matches to earn a recall to the senior team. He then took a total of 7/123 in the next two matches for Punjab to earn selection for North Zone in the Duleep Trophy.
Harbhajan's season was interrupted when he represented India at the Under-19 World Cup in January 1998. He played in six matches, taking eight wickets at 24.75 with a best of 3/5 against Kenya.
Harbhajan is an attacking-minded bowler who is regarded for his ball control and ability to vary his length and pace, although he is often criticised for his flat trajectory. His main wicket-taking ball climbs wickedly on the unsuspecting batsman from a good length, forcing him to alter his stroke at the last second. With a whippy bowling action, he was reported for throwing in November 1998. Although forced to travel to England for tests, his action was cleared by former English player Fred Titmus.
Following the death of his father in 2000, Harbhajan became the family head, and by 2001 had organised marriages for three of his sisters. In 2002 he ruled out his own marriage until at least 2008. In 2005 he again fended off marriage rumours linking him to a Bangalore-based bride, stating that he would only make a decision "after a couple of years", and that he would be seeking a Punjabi bride selected by his family. In a country where cricketers are idolised, Harbhajan's performances have brought him government accolades and lucrative sponsorships. Following his performance against Australia in 2001, the Government of Punjab awarded him ₹5 lakhs, a plot of land, and an offer to become a Deputy Superintendent of Police in Punjab Police, which he accepted.
Harbhajan was not part of the ODI squad for the Australian tour and upon returning to India in early 2000 needed strong first-class results to maintain his Test position. He went wicketless against Hyderabad, and was selected for the Board President's XI match against the touring South Africans. He took 2/88 and 2/59 and scored 38 and 39 to prevent the hosts being bowled out and defeated, but was dropped as the second slow bowler, as Murali Kartik became Kumble's spinning partner. Harbhajan returned to domestic action, taking 24 wickets in Punjab's remaining four first-class matches. He ended the Indian season with 46 first-class wickets at 26.23.
With Kumble injured before the home series in March 2001 against the visiting Australians, Harbhajan, whose previous best Test figures were only 3/30, was the only capped spinner in the Indian team for the First Test. He had been recalled after captain Sourav Ganguly publicly called for his inclusion in the team. He was to lead the spin attack against an Australian team which had set a world record with 16 consecutive Test victories, and was searching for its first series victory on Indian soil since 1969. In a warm-up match for India A, Harbhajan had taken 2/63 and 3/81 against the tourists. Harbhajan started well in the First Test in Mumbai, taking three quick wickets in a spell of 3/8, to reduce Australia to 99/5 in response to India's first innings of 176. However, a counter-attacking 197-run partnership between Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist in just 32 overs, saw Harbhajan concede 103 runs from his last 17 overs, to end with 4/121. Despite being struck for many sixes into the crowd, it was still Harbhajan's best statistical analysis at Test level. Australia eventually proceeded to a crushing 10-wicket victory, their sixteenth consecutive Test victory in succession. This test match has been called by many the greatest that has ever been played, in light of the nature of India's win under difficult circumstances.
Harbhajan's Test success saw him recalled to the ODI team after more than two years. He was unable to reproduce his Test form against Australia, managing only four wickets at an average of 59.25 and economy rate of 5.04. His best performance was a 3/37 in a 118-run win in the third match, and a cameo batting performance of 46 runs from 34 balls, including three sixes, in a losing run chase in the fourth fixture. He was dropped from the ODI team during a subsequent triangular tournament in Zimbabwe in 2001 after only managing two wickets at 69.00 in four matches although he had been economical at 3.63 runs an over. Harbhajan was also unable to maintain his form in the Test series against Zimbabwe. Harbhajan began the tour well with 13 wickets in two warm-up matches, including a match haul of 10/80 against the CFX Academy, but could not repeat such performances in the Tests. He took eight wickets at 29.12 in the two-Test series, which was drawn 1–1, but did manage to post his first Test half-century, reaching 66 in the First Test in Bulawayo, before scoring 31 in the first innings of the Second Test as the Indian batsmen struggled and ceded their series lead. The Indians subsequently toured Sri Lanka in mid-2001, enjoying spinning wickets similar to those in India. Harbhajan managed to establish himself in the ODI team with eleven wickets at 21.18 at the low economy rate of 3.42 in seven matches in the ODI tournament with the hosts and New Zealand. Ironically however, his best performances, in which he conceded less than 30 runs in his ten overs three times, all ended in Indian defeats. In contrast to his ODI improvement, Harbhajan's Test form deteriorated further, yielding only four wickets at 73.00 in three Tests, while Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was named man of the series with 23 wickets, in what was billed as a contest between the world's two leading off-spinners. With the Tests locked at 1–1 Harbhajan managed only 2/185 in the Third Test as the hosts accumulated 6/610 declared and won by an innings. He scored 79 runs at 15.80 for the series.
In an interview in 2001, Harbhajan stated his ambition to become an all-rounder. Although he has recorded a few half-centuries at Test level, his batting average hovers around 15 in both Tests and ODIs. However, in the span of four years starting from 2003, he has shown improved performance, averaging around 20 with the bat. His style is frequently described as unorthodox, with pundits agreeing with his self-assessment attributing his batting achievements to his hand-eye coordination, rather than his footwork or technique. The aggression in Harbhajan's bowling also extends to his batting, with a Test strike rate in the 60s, placing him in the ten highest strike rates among players who have scored more than 1000 runs in Test cricket.
Despite having a job with the constabulary, Harbhajan sustained minor injuries in March 2002 in an altercation with police outside the team hotel in Guwahati. The scuffle broke out when Harbhajan remonstrated with officers after they refused to allow a photographer into the hotel. Harbhajan cut his bowling arm and injured his elbow when he was struck by the police. Extensive negotiations from local officials and organisers were required to dissuade Harbhajan and captain Sourav Ganguly from leaving the area after Ganguly said that the Indian team would abandon the scheduled match against Zimbabwe.
He was named man of the match and man of the series, having taken 32 wickets at 17.03 for the series, when none of his teammates managed more than three. The Wisden 100 study conducted by Wisden in 2002 rated all four of Harbhajan's efforts in the Second and Third Tests in the top 100 bowling performances of all time, the most for any bowler. He paid tribute to his father, who had died just six months earlier. His performance led to him usurping Anil Kumble's position as India's first-choice spinner.
The 2002 ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka at the end of the tour brought moderate results with six wickets at 30.66 at an economy rate of only 3.68, and a best of 3/27 from ten overs in the firstwashed out final against the host nation. Harbhajan helped restrict Sri Lanka to 5/244, but rain ended proceedings with India at 0/14. He then took 1/34 the next day during a replay of the final. This time the hosts made 7/222 and a downpour again thwarted the players, with India at 1/38 when play was called off and the trophy shared.
Harbhajan took four wickets at 33.00 during the one-dayers during the season and was overlooked for the ODI team for the whole season and missed selection for the 1999 Cricket World Cup. In September 2003, he played for India A in a one-day series against their Australian counterparts in Los Angeles. Harbhajan took eight wickets at 17.00 at 3.77 runs an over in the five matches, with a best of 3/38.
After experiencing pains in his spinning finger during the World Cup, Harbhajan was scheduled to undergo surgery in mid-2003 in Australia, but the surgery was delayed as he sought to play through the pain. He underwent physiotherapy in lieu of surgery and was declared fit for a two-match Test series at home against New Zealand in late 2003. His performance was substantially worse than his previous displays on Indian soil, taking only six wickets at an average of 50.00 as both matches ended in high-scoring draws. Aside from his debut series, it was his worst series bowling average on Indian soil. Despite a triangular ODI series against New Zealand and Australia in which he managed only four wickets at 40.50 in four matches and spent time in the sidelines, the Indian team attempted to manage his injury rather than have his finger operated on, and took him on the 2003–04 tour of Australia. As with his previous visit four years earlier, Harbhajan had an unhappy time, taking 2/159 in a tour match against Victoria. After an ineffective 1/169 in the First Test at Brisbane, his injury deteriorated and he underwent major finger surgery, sidelining him for a predicted five months. Kumble replaced him and took 24 wickets in the remaining three Tests in strak contrast of Harbhajan's struggles in Australia. Kumble bowled India to victory in the following Test against Pakistan in Multan, taking 6/71 to reclaim his position as the No. 1 spinner.
His performance in Bangladesh saw him dropped for the First Test in the early 2005 series against Pakistan on his home ground in Mohali, with Kumble being the only spinner selected on the pace-friendly surface. India were in control of the match for four days, and needed only four wickets on day five, but were unable to break the Pakistani lower-order until play was almost over and the tourists had taken a lead, and the match ended in a draw. Harbhajan was recalled for the Second Test in Calcutta and took match figures of 4/145 in an Indian victory. Despite taking 6/152 in a marathon 51-over spell in the first innings of the Third Test in Bangalore, Pakistan won the match to level the series after India collapsed on the final day. Harbhajan finished the series with 10 wickets at 33.20. His performance in the subsequent ODI series was even worse, managing only three wickets at 73.66 in five matches at an economy rate of 4.80. In spite of the poor end to the season, his performance in the year since finger surgery in the long form of the game saw him nominated for the 2005 ICC Test Player of the Year. Harbhajan spent the international off-season playing for Surrey in English county cricket, citing the improvement that other international players had gained from such an experience. It was his first stint in county cricket, after a planned season at Lancashire in 2003 was cancelled due to injury. After taking six wickets in his opening two first-class fixtures, he struck form against Hampshire, taking 6/36 and 2/47 in an innings triumph. In is fourth and final first-class match, against Gloucestershire, Harbhajan took a total of 6/193 and equalled his previous first-class best of 84. He ended with 20 wickets at 25.85 and 124 runs at 31.00. In the Twenty20 competition, he had less success in the new format, taking four wickets at 38.00 at an economy rate of 6.60 in eight matches. In all he spent six weeks with the county.
After a seven-month layoff, Harbhajan returned to represent India in ODIs in the Asia Cup in July 2004, where he took four wickets at 39.75 in four matches at 3.97 runs per over. His performance improved on the tour to England for an ODI series against England and the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy, taking eight wickets at 14.00, conceding only 2.80 runs an over, including 3/28 against England and 3/33 against Kenya and hitting as an unbeaten 41 against England at The Oval as India's batting collapsed to a substantial defeat.
He has developed an ability to bowl the doosra, which was the subject of an official report by match referee Chris Broad, on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Mark Benson, and TV umpire Mahbubur Rahman after the Second Test between India and Bangladesh at Chittagong, Bangladesh in December 2004. The ICC cleared his action in May 2005, saying that the straightening of his elbow fell within the permitted limits.
One of his common nicknames, outside India, is The Turbanator, deriving from his skill as a bowler in terminating the innings of the opposing team, and the fact that, as a Sikh, he wears a turban whenever he plays. Among Indians, Harbhajan is more commonly known as bhajji. It was estimated in 2005 that Harbhajan was the most recognised and commercially viable Indian cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, in part due to his colourful personality and iconic turban, as well as his reputation for enjoying the celebrity social scene. His signing for English county team Surrey in 2005, based at The Oval in London, was partly attributed to his marketability. Harbhajan had generated a large personal following in the western London suburb of Southall, which boasts a majority Punjabi Sikh population, when he lived there in 1998 while training under Fred Titmus.
Harbhajan's first outings under newly appointed coach Greg Chappell came at the Indian Oil Cup in Sri Lanka in August 2005. He took five wickets at 31.40, conceding 4.02 runs per over in four matches, but was wicketless in the final, which was won by the host nation. This was followed by a tour of Zimbabwe, which was marred by tension between the new coach and Indian captain Ganguly. This broke into the public arena when Ganguly claimed that he was asked to resign as captain. Harbhajan played in all five matches in the Videocon Tri-Series involving Zimbabwe and New Zealand with little success, managing only two wickets at 99.00 at an economy rate of 4.77, both of them against an inexperienced Zimbabwe team crippled by a mass exodus of white players from the Mugabe regime. Harbhajan had a quiet Test series against Zimbabwe, taking six wickets at 31.00. He was only required to bowl 58 overs, as the majority of the Zimbabwean batsmen were removed after being unable to cope with Pathan's swing which was likened to "Frisbees at high speed", leaving little work for the spinners. He managed to claim his 200th Test wicket in the First Test, and in doing so became the second youngest player to reach the mark after Kapil Dev. Harbhajan's batting was notable for an exceptionally aggressive 18-ball innings in the First Test in Bulawayo, where he struck four fours and three sixes in a cameo innings of 37.
Harbhajan was under pressure to perform when Sri Lanka toured India in late 2005 following his attack on Chappell and the replacement of Ganguly, who had frequently supported him during previous career difficulties, with new captain Rahul Dravid. In addition, his home ODI form had been poor in the previous three years, managing only 12 wickets at 56 in 16 matches, with an economy rate of 4.8. In the three Challenger Trophy matches at the start of the season, he took five wickets at 24.20 at an economy rate of 4.25. He responded by claiming 3/35 in the first ODI in Nagpur after Sri Lanka had raced to 50 in just 6.3 overs. The Sri Lankan batsmen hit the Indian fast bowlers out of the attack, scoring 74 runs in the first 10 overs and forcing Dravid to delay the Power Play and introduce Harbhajan. This sparked a collapse, with 4 wickets taken for 14 runs, resulting in a 152-run Indian victory. Harbhajan took 2/19 in the next match, and aggregated six wickets at 26 in the first four matches, at a low economy rate of 3.43, with a series of performances noted for skilful variations in pace and flight, helping India gain an unassailable 4–0 series lead. He was subsequently rested for the fifth ODI, and ended the series as the most economical bowler, conceding only 3.62 runs per over.
In 2006 Harbhajan's endorsements generated controversy when he appeared without his turban in an advertisement for Royal Stag whisky. This angered many orthodox Sikhs, leading to anti-Harbhajan protests in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, with effigies of Harbhajan being burnt. The Sikh clergy and Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee demanded an apology from him and asked Seagram's to withdraw the advert, on the basis that it had "hurt the feelings of Sikhs". Harbhajan quickly issued an apology, but he was also unhappy at the clergy's interference, stating "If they were unhappy, they should have called me and talked to me like a son".
Harbhajan's difficulties were compounded when he earned the ire of cricket authorities by publicly attacking Chappell and defending Ganguly after the team returned to India. He claimed that Chappell had used "double standards" and instilled "fear and insecurity" into the team. The Punjab Cricket Association called him to explain his actions, but he was not punished after offering an apology. In early 2006, Harbhajan changed his stance publicly, praising Chappell for the team's improved form, stating "He has great knowledge about the game and it has been a very successful year for us under him. He has lifted our team to great heights".
2006 began with Harbhajan's first tour to arch-rivals Pakistan. The First Test was a high scoring draw held in Lahore, where Harbhajan recorded his worst ever Test figures of 0/176, conceding more than five runs an over in a match where 1,089 runs were scored for the loss of just eight wickets. In a match in which many batting records fell, Harbhajan was hit for 27 runs in one over by Shahid Afridi, just one short of the world record. The second Test in Faisalabad was another high scoring draw, with the aggregate runs being the fourth highest in Test history. Harbhajan took 0/101 and 0/78. His 81 overs in the series were the fourth highest number of overs in any Test series without taking a wicket. When he was given the opportunity to make use of the batting surface in India's only innings in Faisalabad, he managed a brisk 38, including two sixes. Harbhajan was dropped for the Third Test in Karachi, where a green pitch promised to favour seam bowling, and Kumble was the only spinner used. After sustaining an injury, Harbhajan was sent home during the subsequent ODI series without playing a match, ending his tour without taking a wicket.
The 2006–07 season began with the DLF Cup in Malaysia, where Harbhajan made a good start to the season, taking six wickets at 19.16 at an economy rate of 3.59 in four matches. He was man of the match against the West Indies, scoring 37 in a 78-run partnership to push India to 162, before taking 3/35 to secure a 16-run victory. India failed to reach the final, contested by Australia and the West Indies. Harbhajan was unable to maintain his form in the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy held in India, managing only two wickets at 51.50 and saving his worst performance of 0/49 in the final group match against Australia on his home ground in Punjab. India won only one of their three matches and were eliminated, although Harbhajan continued to be tidy, conceding 3.67 runs per over. The tour of South Africa in late 2006 saw even less success, taking only one wicket in three ODI matches while conceding 161 runs at the expensive economy rate of 5.75. He finished the year watching from the sidelines as India fielded Kumble as the only spinner in the three Test series, which India lost 2–1. Apart from the injury hit 2003, it was Harbhajan's least productive year in Test cricket since he became a regular team member in 2001, managing only 19 wickets at 52.78.
During the 2007 Cricket World Cup, Harbhajan started as India's first-choice spinner and played in their first match against Bangladesh. He took 0/30 from his ten overs, but India lost the match as their batsmen collapsed and Bangladesh had no need to take risks against the bowling. Harbhajan was dropped in favour of Kumble for the second match against Bermuda, which India won easily. Harbhajan was recalled for the final group match against Sri Lanka, and had little effect, taking 0/53 from his ten overs as India were set 255 for victory. Harbhajan made an unbeaten 17 as India collapsed to 185 to lose the match and be eliminated in the group phase. Following the failed campaign, the Indian selectors made multiple changes to the national team and Harbhajan was dropped for the tours of Bangladesh and England. Rajesh Pawar, Piyush Chawla and Powar were the spinners selected to partner Kumble. Harbhajan's waning wicket-taking and his lack of flight were again perceived to be the cause of his problems.
Harbhajan returned to international cricket as part of India's squad for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in South Africa in September 2007, which India won, having been rank outsiders at the start of the tournament with many senior players opting out of the competition. He played in all six of India's matches and totalled seven wickets at 26.00 and an economy rate of 7.91. In the opening pool match against Pakistan, Harbhajan hit the stumps in a bowl-out after scores were tied; India won 3–0 after three rounds. In the semi-final against Australia, Harbhajan bowled Michael Clarke and conceded only three runs in his final over, the 18th of the match, to turn the match towards India. The final against Pakistan was the only match in which Harbhajan did not bowl his full quota of four overs, after being struck for three sixes in his third over by Misbah-ul-Haq, who led a late charge towards the target. India prevailed by five runs in the final over, Misbah being the last man to fall.
Harbhajan was involved in further controversy after an 2008 Indian Premier League (IPL) match between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab at Mohali in April 2008. While the teams were shaking hands, he slapped Kerala paceman and Indian teammate Sreesanth in the face. Harbhajan, who had stood in as the Mumbai captain for the first three matches of the tournament to that point, all of which were lost, had apparently been angered by Sreesanth's aggressive sending-off of his batsmen as Punjab coasted to a decisive victory. The Kings XI Punjab lodged an official complaint to the IPL. The match referee Farokh Engineer found Harbhajan guilty of a level 4.2 offence, banning him from the remainder of the IPL and preventing him from claiming his entire season's salary. Harbhajan made up with Sreesanth, and said that "I have been punished for the wrong I did". Harbhajan had taken five wickets at 16.40 at an economy rate of 8.20 and scored 30 runs at 15.00 in the three matches before his ban. On 14 May, the BCCI disciplinary committee found Harbhajan guilty under Rule 3.2.1 of their regulations and handed down the maximum punishment of five-match ban from ODIs. Harbhajan faces the prospect of a life ban if he commits significant disciplinary breaches in the future. As a result, Harbhajan missed the tri-series in Bangladesh and the 2008 Asia Cup in Pakistan, and India went down in the final of both tournaments after qualifying first on both occasions. He would have been eligible for selection after the first two matches of the Asia Cup, but the selectors omitted him entirely.
During the tri-series in Bangladesh in January 2010, Harbhajan took six wickets at 24.00 in three matches. He missed the First Test due to neck pain but returned to take a total of 2/123 as India completed a clean sweep with a ten-wicket win in the Second Test.
During New Zealand's tour of India in November 2010, Harbhajan scored his maiden Test century during the First Test in Ahmedabad. This was the 100th century by an Indian in the second innings and he reached triple figures with a six. His 115, along with Laxman's 91 saved the game for India after they had collapsed to 5/15. Harbhajan was named man of the match. He followed on in the next test with 111* in India's 1st innings, becoming the first no. 8 batsman to score back-to-back test centuries.
After an ordinary performance with the ball in the 5-match ODI series in West Indies in June 2011 (where he was the vice captain to skipper Suresh Raina) (took 4 wickets from 3 matches, best of 3/32), he helped his team revive from dire straits in the 1st Test in Sabina Park at Kingston, Jamaica. With India struggling at 85/6, he along with Suresh Raina initiated a counter-attack to string an aggressive 146-run partnership with Suresh Raina(82 off 115 balls, 15 fours) to help India reach 246. Harbhajan scored 70 from 74 balls (10 fours, 1 six).
He went to play the IPL 2012 which was not that successful for him, but took his team to semi final while being captain. Harbhajan went to play for Essex in England but is not selected for the Sri Lankan tour before the 2012 ICC World Twenty20. In his debut match for Essex against Gloucestershire, Harbhajan did not take any wicket on 12 July 2012, conceding 33 runs in his 12 overs. He was bought by Chennai Super Kings in 2018 after 10 years with Mumbai Indians.
Following a few poor performances, Harbhajan was injured in India's tour of England in the summer/monsoon of 2011 and was ruled out of the rest of the series. Harbhajan was also not selected for the Australian tour and the 2012 Asia Cup in Bangladesh. He was, however, included in 30 probables for the World T20 tournament held in Sri Lanka in September 2012. He was recalled to the Test squad after a gap of more than a year against New Zealand at the end of August 2012. Harbhajan was dropped from the test team after the 2013 series against Australia. He was called back to the test team after 2 years for a solitary test against Bangladesh.
Harbhajan Singh married his longtime girlfriend, actress Geeta Basra, on 29 October 2015 in Jalandhar.
Following performances in IPL for Mumbai Indians in 2015 and 2014, he was included in the test team captained by Virat Kohli against Bangladesh for the one-off test match in Fatullah. He took 3 wickets in that test to overtake Wasim Akram in the list of most test match wickets to become the ninth highest wicket-taker in Tests. He was then called up for the ODI and T20I teams when a second-string Indian side toured Zimbabwe to play 3 One-day and 2 Twenty-20 matches. Though he did not take many wickets in that tour, he was impressive maintaining a tight line and stopping the flow of runs.
They have a daughter, Hinaya Heer Plaha, born on 27 July 2016 in Portsmouth, Hampshire
Currently, Harbhajan Singh is 42 years, 4 months and 27 days old. Harbhajan Singh will celebrate 43rd birthday on a Monday 3rd of July 2023.
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