Veteran India spinner Harbhajan Singh has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket on friday. The 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 ODI World Cup winner released a statement on his social media account to announce the big decision. The legendary off-spinner last played for India on March 03, 2016, against UAE in the T20 World Cup. However, he was constantly part of the Indian Premier League and played for Kolkata Knight Riders last season.
The 41-year-old took to Twitter and wrote: “All good things come to an end and today as I bid adieu to the game that has given me everything in life, I would like to thank everyone who made this 23-year-long journey beautiful and memorable. My heartfelt thank you”
All good things come to an end and today as I bid adieu to the game that has given me everything in life, I would like to thank everyone who made this 23-year-long journey beautiful and memorable.My heartfelt thank you 🙏 Grateful .https://t.co/iD6WHU46MU— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) December 24, 2021
Harbhajan was one of the biggest match-winners for India during his playing days as he has been part of several historic wins. The off-spinner made his debut for India on March 25, 1998. He didn’t take much time to make an impact amongst several big names in the Indian team. He took two wickets on his debut against Australia.
However, it was the 2001 Test series against Australia, where Harbhajan took the cricketing world by a storm. India lost the first match of the series and was on verge of losing the second at Eden Gardens but spectacular performances from VVS Laxman and Harbhajan changes the script. Laxman was the hero with the bat with his 281-run knock. While a young Harbhajan spun the web around mighty Australia batting line-up. He picked a whopping seven wickets in the first innings to stop Australia at a score of 445. It was a 13-wicket haul for the off-spinner as he picked six wickets in the last innings to stop the visitors at a mere score of 212. Harbhajan helped India in winning the crucial game by 171 runs to level the series by 1-1.
He continued to trouble the Aussie batters in the final Test as he claimed 15 wickets across two innings. The Turbanator returned with the figures of 38.2-6-133-7 followed by 41.5-20-84-8 in the next innings. As Harbhajan brought his ‘A’ game to the fore, India won the series decider by two wickets.
Harbhajan didn’t look back after that and became a very integral part of the Indian cricket team. He was an automatic starter in both ODIs and Tests for India for many years and when T20I cricket came into the fray Harbhajan dominated that too. He was one of the senior pros of India’s successful 2007 T20 World Cup campaign and he played his role quite well. The off-spinner claimed 7 wickets in as many matches on fast-paced South African pitches.
In the 2011 ODI World Cup, Harbhajan was once again the senior spinner in the Indian side and was the go through bowler for skipper MS Dhoni. he claimed 9 wickets in as many matches as India lifted the ODI World Cup after 28 years.
However, Harbhajan’s name was also associated with a couple of major controversies. The 2008 Sydney Test between India and Australia grabbed the limelight for all the wrong reasons and Harbhajan was the center of attraction alongside Andrew Symonds. The veteran spinner was accused of using a racial slur against Symonds and was suspended for three Tests. However, the BCCI took the stand against it and they even threaten to pull off from the tour. Eventually, Harbhajan’s punishment was reduced to a 50% match-fee fine.
2008 was a year to forget for Harbhajan as he was involved in another major controversy ‘slapgate’. In the inaugural season of IPL, Harbhajan who played for Mumbai Indians slapped S Sreesanth of Kings XI Punjab after the match. The incident shocked the cricketing world as the veteran spinner was suspended from the remaining matches of the season and BCCI also handed him a five-match ODI ban.
Meanwhile, Harbhajan finished his career with some magnificent numbers, in 103 Tests he claimed 417 wickets. While in 236 ODIs, the offie claimed 269 scalps. The 41-year-old was also known for his lower-order batting exploits as he has a couple of Test centuries registered on his name.
After the retirement, the reports are going around that Harbhajan will join the support staff of a major IPL franchise as he has always shown a keen interest in grooming players.
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