Colombo: Harbhajan Singh has been out of the Indian side for over a year. On Sunday, he was drafted in to face the might of defending champions and the veteran bowler fired on all cylinders to blow the opposition into smithereens. He took the opportunity to thank his mother for her support.
Saying that a comeback was difficult since his replacements had been doing a good job, Harbhajan thanked his mother and friends for standing by his side and supporting him. "Today was one of those days that everything went my way. I would like to thank everybody who supported me, including my mother. I would also like to thank all at Essex," he said at the post-match conference. He played for Essex earlier this year as part of his county stint.
Getting a chance to play against England in the final Group A match, Harbhajan and his fellow bowlers had 170 runs to defend. Altough the start was made by Irfan Pathan who took two early wickets, the spinner soon took over and showed that having him in the side in place of R Aswhin was a decision that could linger going further into the tournament. He lofted, bowled short, tried full and offered every other bit of variation only to have English batsmen walking back, almost in a trail-like march.
For someone who has been criticised as a player who is past his prime, Harbhajan showed being 30 is good and if a spin-friendly track is laid out in front, the ball can be at his command just as well as in the hands of any other.
To give the pitch the credit though would be unfair. Credit however was also due to the other bowlers, especially Piyush Chawla who took over from the other end and kept the pressure up.
Harbhajan claimed the man-of-the-match award for his efforts and said it was great to be back in the thick of things.
"It has been a tough year. I was injured and did not have a great IPL or Ranji. Then, I went to Essex and that was a right thing to do. Thankfully, today I got my reward," he said.