After Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka, Harbhajan Singh, sometimes referred to as “Bhajji” and “The Turbanator,” is an Indian cricket player who holds the record for taking the most wickets in Test matches. Singh is a member of the Punjab cricket team and spent ten years playing in the Indian Premier League for the Mumbai Indians before getting chosen by the Chennai Super Kings. Although examinations into his bowling motion hindered his early career and caused delays, the specialized spin bowler proved to be a hit for Sourav Ganguly, the captain at the time, who had asked him to replace the injured Anil Kumble in the 2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy match against Australia. There were many ups and downs in his latter career, and he was embroiled in several controversies, including the “Monkey-gate” controversy involving Australian Andrew Symonds and the “Slap-gate” event involving Indian teammate Sreesanth. Even though Singh frequently surpassed the great spinner Kumble, he stayed in his shadow until the latter’s retirement. His accomplishments include dismissing former Australian captain Ricky Ponting ten times in Test cricket, among other notable records.
Early Life & Childhood
On July 3, 1980, Harbhajan Singh Plaha was born in Jalandhar, Punjab, India. His mother Avtar Kaur was a homemaker, while his father Sardar Sardev Singh Plaha was a businessman who ran a factory that produced ball bearings and valves. There are five sisters in Harbhajan.
Before undergoing instruction as a spin bowler with coach Davinder Arora, Harbhajan was more interested in becoming a batsman and was studying the finer points of batting under instructor Charanjit Singh Bhullar. Following Bhullar’s passing, Harbhajan began to gravitate towards off-spin bowling. It was his father who persuaded him to go into cricket instead of the family business.
Home Career of Harbhajan Singh
In November 1995, at the age of 15, Harbhajan Singh made his debut for the Punjab Under-16s squad in a domestic match against Haryana. In addition to being nominated to join the national Under-19 team for a youth ODI against South Africa, he was chosen for the North Zone Under-16s team with 32 wickets and 96 runs in his account.
After that, he was elevated to the Punjab Under-19s, where he played his first-class debut against Services in the Ranji Trophy season of 1997–98. He was picked to play in the Duleep Trophy for North Zone, but his team lost to East Zone by a margin of five wickets. Later, in January 1998, he competed for India in the Under-19 World Cup.
Global Profession of Harbhajan Singh
Before the 1997–98 Test series, Harbhajan Singh was selected to play for the Indian Board President’s XI against the Australian visiting team. He was left out of the first two Test matches because of his subpar performance in the practice match. On March 25, 1998, he made his debut for his country in the third Test match, however he only took one wicket. He was overlooked for the home series between Zimbabwe, Australia, and India, but in April, he made his ODI debut in Sharjah against New Zealand.
After making his debut in 1998, Singh struggled to live up to expectations and was eventually left off the squad until he was ready to compete in the Singer Trophy again. In six games, he claimed eight wickets, with just one coming in the championship. He was thus left off of the Sahara Cup team, but he still competed for India in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
His only ODI outing for India in over two years was during the 1998–1999 series against Zimbabwe; he then resumed playing domestic cricket. He took 4/91 for the Board President’s XI in the 1999 home series against New Zealand, and he was kept for the next Test series. In two games, he was able to claim six wickets.
When Anil Kumble was injured during the 2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, captain Sourav Ganguly gave Singh an unexpected call in 2001 and requested him to spearhead the spin attack against Australia. Singh had a great series, taking 32 wickets to lead India to a 2-1 victory. In addition to being crowned ‘Man of the Series,’ he achieved a first for India by taking a Test hat-trick.
On Sri Lanka’s spin-friendly surface in 2001, Singh took 11 wickets in seven matches despite playing poorly in ODIs against Australia and Zimbabwe. Later, at his home stadium of Mohali, he took 7/110 in a Test match against England, with 5/51 coming in the opening innings. In the subsequent match, he took five wickets once more.
He did well when India toured Zimbabwe in 2001, but he hurt himself in the middle of the 2002 West Indies tour, making it difficult for him to take wickets save from the final game when he took eight. Later, he played passably in the NatWest Series, the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka, and Test matches against England.
During the Indian Test series against the West Indies, he performed better. With 20 wickets and 69 runs in his kitty, he was named the “Man of the Series”. He was a reliable performer, taking 11 wickets at an economy rate of 3.92 at the 2003 World Cup.
After suffering a finger injury during the 2003 World Cup, Singh decided to postpone surgery and instead treat his discomfort with physiotherapy. But when his form kept getting worse, he ultimately needed to have a major operation, which kept him out of action for seven months.
After taking a break, Harbhajan was able to get back into form in time to represent India in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy and the Asia Cup in July 2004. Despite playing effectively with the bat and ball in the home series against Australia, he was unable to save his team from losing 2-1.
In an attempt to turn things around, he played for the English county team Surrey during the off-season as his form started to deteriorate again towards the conclusion of the season. Following his outspoken criticism of new coach Greg Chappell and defense of captain Ganguly in one of the biggest Indian cricket scandals, he found himself under siege. After that, in 2005, he performed admirably in Test and One-Day International matches against Sri Lanka.
When Singh did not perform well at the 2007 World Cup, he was dropped. Singh had begun to struggle with his form in 2006. But he did contribute to India’s victory in the ICC World Twenty20. He delivered several game-winning performances throughout the season to rank third in the globe and as India’s top wicket-taker in 2008.
In the 2007–08 Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia, Singh spoke briefly with Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds during a test match. Symonds said that Singh had insulted him ethnically by calling him a monkey. The Indian team threatened to withdraw from the series when Singh received a three-match punishment. But after India won the series 2-1, Singh’s suspension was revoked.
In the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup, he had a mediocre performance as India lost that series early. He had trouble in the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy as well, but in the 2010 campaign, he found his form again. He was part of the Indian side that won the World Cup in 2011, but an injury kept him out of the next series.
The 2011 Champions League Twenty20 title was captained by him as he guided the Mumbai Indians to victory in the IPL. He was granted a return to international cricket because of his success in the IPL in 2014–2015, and he used this opportunity to surpass Wasim Akram’s record and rank ninth all-time in Test wicket-taking.
He was selected for the Indian Test team that played Sri Lanka in 2015. Later, he was called upon to start the ODI series against South Africa instead of injured all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin. After that, Singh took part in three Twenty20 matches against Australia, a home T20 series against Sri Lanka, and the 2016 Asia Cup (T20) in Bangladesh. Additionally, he was chosen to play in the 2016 T20 World Cup in India. Even though he was frequently picked for the Indian squad, he was hardly used in the starting lineup.
He was left out of the Indian squad that was playing in the 2017 Champions Trophy trip to England. Singh is said to have claimed that he was “not getting the same privileges that other veteran cricketers, namely MS Dhoni, have been afforded by the national selectors” when he learned of his omission. In the Indian cricket field, his statement sparked much controversy.
Honors & Accomplishments
As an off-spinner in Test cricket, Harbhajan Singh is the second-highest wicket-taker, ranking 11th overall. In Test cricket, he became the first bowler from India to achieve a hat-trick.
The fourth highest civilian award in India, the Padma Shri, was given to him in 2009.
Personal & Family Life
On October 29, 2015, in Jalandhar, Harbhajan Singh tied the knot with the actress Geeta Basra, his lifelong partner. Hinaya Heer Plaha, their daughter, is theirs.
Random Facts of Harbhajan Singh
Having to provide for his mother and his sisters who were not married, Harbhajan Singh thought about giving up cricket and going to the US to work as a truck driver when his father passed away in 2000.
Net worth of Harbhajan Singh
The estimated net worth of Harbhajan Singh is about $10 million.