Milestones are always good for they are pit stops to take a breather,reflect back on the time and perhaps prepare for the future with a renewed zeal and vigour which should be an obvious byproduct of that landmark.Harbhajan Singh must be going through the same emotions after completing 400 wickets in test matches.The fiesty sardar was on the brink of this record before the series with West Indies started and it must be a good feeling to have finally got it away.It could not have come at a better time when bhajji is fending off criticism from almost everywhere.Be it about not flighting the ball enough to get more purchase or about not been able to run through the sides or the most cynical one:that he is not allowing Ashwin to play.Harbhajan is going through what V.V.S. Laxman endured during most of his initial years.In spite of being a proven match winner its the off spinner,the only Indian to claim a hat-trick in test matches,who has to prove himself every time he is there on the field.Some people say that this is because of his recent (in)effectiveness.Flip through the records and one finds he has taken 47 wickets in his last 11 test matches.Not a bad record considering India’s greatest spinner Anil Kumble took 35 wickets in his last 11 and only 15 wickets in his last 7 matches.I don’t think any one questioned the credentials of Kumble,so are we being unfair to Harbhajan Singh? The man himself is clearly not amused and he says “playing for 13 years and taking more than 400 wickets is not easy that’s why there are only 4 spinners in that club”.
Controversies have been part and parcel with Harbhajan Singh’s carreer but rather than getting bogged down he has always bounced back.After being unceremoniously left out of the team for a suspect action he came back with a vengeance to claim 32 wickets in 3 test matches against Australia including a hat-trick.A series he claims was path breaking for him as post that he never considered himself as a second fiddle to Anil Kumble.”After that series I never thought that I was the fourth bowler whose job was to take two wickets and go.I always wanted to win matches for India”.Turbunator’s recent contributions with the bat clearly exemplifies that hunger to take his team to victory everytime he plays.Spinners grows with age and Bhajji knows that.Shane Warne,Anil Kumble and Muralitharan all enjoyed comparatively greater success in the latter part of their carreers.Perhaps that’s why Harbhajan has his sights on the figure of 600.”I will be dissapointed if I don’t get to 600 wickets.I’m only 31, and even though the last seven wickets have made me work harder, (I’m hopeful) the next 200 will come very soon,” said Harbhajan to a new agency.The kind of steely resolve Sardarji has shown in the past and with Ashwin keeping him on his toes I won’t be surprised if he takes fewer than 50 test matches,that’s what it took him to reach 400 from 200,to take next 200.
Harbhajan has been an important cog in the wheel of India’s fortunes in their ascendance towards the top and will require him to be at his best if they want to sustain that position.Although his performances have made people asking questions but probably that’s because expectations are higher from the No.1 Indian spinner as even when he is not at his best he was still good enough to take 15 and 11 wickets in the last two series not as bad a performance as it was made out to be by some of the critics sitting in an air-conditioned studio.However humble sikh acknowledges that he can do much better and we sure know he can.As history has told us that whenever bhajji has been panned he has come back stronger so we should be waiting with all the more anticipation what he does in England.I am placing my bets on him,are you?