I Know What Needs to be Done to Succeed: Harbhajan Singh

Harbhajan, who had pulled out of IPL 2020 due to personal reasons, will play for Kolkata Knight Riders this season.

3 min read
Harbhajan Singh celebrates a wicket for CSK. 

Ace India spinner Harbhajan Singh may not have played competitively in a while but believes he has the wherewithal as he begins life in his first bio-secure bubble in IPL 2021. In his 13th season in the IPL, Harbhajan will turn out for Kolkata Knight Riders.

"These questions [about playing after a gap] are asked because I haven't played a lot of cricket of late so teams are a bit defensive at auction and they don't want to bid for me," Singh, who was bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for INR 2 crore in the 2021 auction, was quoted as saying by PTI.

"But let me remind all that when I did well for CSK in 2019 IPL, I hadn't played any domestic cricket. I came to the camp, prepared and went into the match. At my level and experience, I know what needs to be done.

"I don't need to play domestic cricket for Punjab and stop a young talent from flourishing. That boy needs that chance more than me."

Harbhajan was among those who pulled out of IPL 2020 and had said "family takes precedence over sport". He said he felt more confident now about being in a bubble because the IPL as back in India and people "have now got used to new normal".

"Last year, when IPL happened, Covid-19 in India was at its peak," he said. "I was concerned about my family and also about hard quarantine in India after coming back. But this year, it's happening in India and also we have now got used to new normal. Vaccines have come. Also it's my family which pushed. My wife told me that I should go and play."

Harbhajan played 11 matches in the 2019 IPL for Chennai Super Kings and finished with 16 wickets while conceding only 7.09 runs per over.

Singh played eight of those 11 matches in Chennai and Delhi, where pitches are known to favour spinners more than fast bowlers. This time, he joins the Knight Riders' spin attack of Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy and Kuldeep Yadav, and the franchise has its 14 league games spread across four cities: Chennai (three), Mumbai (two), Ahmedabad (four) and Bengaluru (five).

"We have a good team," Singh said. "T20 is all about three players in a team, could be any three, clicking on that particular day. You see Mumbai Indians are a side which has all its bases covered but they are still beatable. It could be a Rahul Tripathi or a Nitish Rana can win it for us."

The veteran off-spinner has been playing primarily T20 cricket in recent years, having last played first-class cricket in 2017, for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy.

"I have got nothing to prove to anyone. My intention is to play well, enjoy my stint out there in the middle and playing cricket still gives me that satisfaction. I have set a standard for myself and if I don't meet that, I don't need anyone else but I will blame myself. I need to ask myself, 'did I put in the optimum effort that was required'," he said. "Yes, I am not a 20-year-old anymore and won't be training like I did then. But yes, as a 40-year-old, I know I am fit and will certainly do what is required to succeed at this level. The expectation is still going to be there and responsibilities that were there when I was playing for India remains.

"Every season, I introspect if I have it in me to play or not. If I feel I am done, I will say, 'thank you, very much'. If I feel I am doing alright, you will see me next year."

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