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I'm looking forward to playing again for India: Harbhajan

Last updated on: September 7, 2012 19:29 IST

I'm looking forward to playing again for India: Harbhajan

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Harish Kotian

Harbhajan Singh is itching to get back on the field and perform for India. It's been a year since the feisty off-spinner was dropped from the national squad following inconsistent performances, but a good showing in the Indian Premier League, followed by a stint with Essex in English county cricket, helped him earn a recall.

The 32-year-old is India's most successful spinner after Anil Kumble, with 406 wickets from 98 Tests, and has also hit two centuries and nine fifties.

In ODIs, he has taken 259 wickets in 229 matches and was an integral part of the team even when the legendary Kumble was around.

Kumble and former captain Sourav Ganguly have openly called for Harbhajan's inclusion in the squad as they believe he has the ability to perform at the highest level.

The ace 'offie' is now looking to prove his worth in the two-match T20 series against New Zealand, and the World T20 later this month. He is currently training at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore along with close friend and team-mate Yuvraj Singh, who also made a remarkable comeback to the game after recovering from surgery last year.

Delighted on being recalled, the ace off-spinner tells Harish Kotian he can still produce match-winning performances for Team India.

It's been a year since you played for the national team. How does it feel to be back again?

It feels great to be back; I am looking forward to it.


Image: Harbhajan Singh
Photographs: Getty Images

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'My job is to go out and give my best'

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You will be playing in the T20 series against New Zealand, and then the World T20. Are you feeling the pressure of performing well to retain your place?

 

Whenever you play international cricket there is always the pressure of winning the match for your team. My job is to go out and give my best shot whenever I get the opportunity to play; that is the best you can do as a player. The results and everything else will be taken care of with your hard work.

 

You have to work towards your goal. Mine is to win matches for my team and make them champions. I will try to do whatever I can do from my side.

Image: Harbhajan Singh
Photographs: Getty Images

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'Conditions in England are unfavourable for spin bowlers'

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How was your stint with Essex? You seemed to have regained your rhythm towards the closing stages of the trip, having picked 13 wickets in five matches.

It was nice to be playing cricket again. The more you play, the more you learn. It was tough, because the conditions in England are unfavourable for spin bowlers.

I didn't play much, but whatever matches I played there I was happy to be playing cricket and bowling lots of overs, which was very important. It was nice to be among the wickets and am looking forward to playing again for India.

Did it help being away from India and playing county cricket in England?

Obviously, it did help. It is always nice to be playing cricket, whether people are following or not. People were following my performances and checking whether I was getting wickets or not. I was not bothered whether there was attention or not to my performances, because I was focused on doing the best I could from my side.


Image: Harbhajan Singh
Photographs: Getty Images
Tags: England , India , Essex

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'Kumble, Ganguly played a very important role in my career'

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Were you able to identify what was going wrong for you? How did you work on it?

Nothing went wrong; it was just that sometimes you try everything, but nothing works. I think I tried enough, but nothing worked out. So what could I do about it?

You played 98 Tests for India, and performed exceptionally well, claiming 406 wickets before the loss of form. Are you confident of making a comeback to the Test team?

I have always been confident. It is always a special feeling to play Test cricket for your country. The guys who are playing now are doing well, so it is a good sign that there is competition.

I know I will have to work harder to get back into the team and I am trying to make sure that when I make it to the team I do well.

Former team-mates Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble have pushed for your inclusion in the Test side. How does it feel getting support from people who worked closely with you?

It is nice to get support from your seniors. They played a very important role in my career when I was very young and started playing for India.

It feels special when champions like Ganguly and Kumble support you. They have seen me from close and have a lot of faith in my abilities. This kind of support motivates and encourages you to work harder and do better on the field.


Image: Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble
Photographs: Reuters

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'We have the team to win the World Cup'

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You have been working hard at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore for the last few days. What's the focus in training?

I am working hard in the nets and trying to prepare myself the best I can. My focus is to do well and make sure I succeed at the highest level.

You have been training with Yuvraj Singh, who is also making a comeback to the team after successfully defeating cancer. How do you look at his comeback?

It is nice to have someone like Yuvraj with you. What he went through and how he fought through it all was quite unbelievable. He is an inspiration for all of us, that if you have the will you can achieve anything.

His will was to come out of cancer, become healthy and play for India again. He has achieved that.

Yuvraj has recovered better than anyone could have imagined and that is why he is back in the team. I am looking forward to playing alongside him. I played a lot of cricket with him and am very happy for him. Cricket means a lot to him and I am sure he will bounce back with a bang. He is in fine touch and looking good in the nets.

India won the T20 World Cup in 2007, but failed to impress in the last two editions. How do you rate our chances this time, since it will be played in Sri Lanka, where the conditions are similar to India?

All the players and teams try to play to their best and look to win every game. We will go out with a positive frame of mind, because I believe we have the team to win the World Cup.




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