All Good Things Come to an End: Harbhajan Singh Announces Retirement
In IPL 2021, Harbhajan Singh turned up for KKR but did not play a game in the second phase of the tournament.
One of India’s most successful bowlers across formats, Harbhajan Singh announced his retirement from all forms of competitive cricket on Friday, 24 December.
The veteran off-spinner was part of the Indian squad in the 2007 (T20) and 2011 ODI World Cup triumphs and was also crucial to the cause when Australia’s juggernaut was stopped in India in 2001, when he claimed 32 wickets in three Tests to help script a memorable series win. He also recorded his best Test figures of 8 for 84 in that series in Chennai. It was also in this series, at Eden Gardens that Harbhajan picked a hat-trick, achieving the milestone in the first innings and becoming the first Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in Test cricket.
In the 2011 ODI World Cup, Harbhajan was the senior spinner in the Indian side and was the go-to bowler for skipper MS Dhoni. He claimed nine wickets in as many matches as India lifted the ODI World Cup after 28 years.
In 2003, with Sourav Ganguly as captain, Harbhajan played a key role in taking India to the final, where they lost to Australia in South Africa. The veteran spinner took 11 wickets in the tournament.
“All good things come to an end and today as I bid adieu to the game that has given me everything in life, I would like to thank everyone who made this 23-year-long journey beautiful and memorable. My heartfelt thank you 🙏 Grateful,” Harbhajan tweeted on Friday.
Harbhajan took 417 wickets in 103 Tests, which is currently the fourth-most number of wickets by an Indian bowler in Tests. He made his Test and ODI debut in 1998, picking 269 wickets in the 50-over format from 236 games and 25 scalps in 28 games in T20Is.
His first Test wicket was that of Australia's Greg Blewett while he made his ODI debut against New Zealand in Sharjah.
The 41-year-old was also a quick-scoring lower order batter and has two Test centuries to his name along with nine half-centuries. Both his centuries came against NZ when they were touring India.
His overall haul of wickets makes him the second-most successful bowler in international cricket for India with a totall of 707 wickets, behind one of his teammates Anil Kumble, who finished with 953.
The 41-year-old, who featured in a few matches during the first phase of the last IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders. He didn't play a game in the UAE leg of the league. Bhajji, as he is fondly known, spent a lot of time in the KKR camp helping young spinners like Varun Chakaravarthy.
"I haven't been an active cricketer for a while. But I had a commitment to Kolkata Knight Riders, and wanted to spend the (2021) IPL season with them. But during the season itself, I had made up my mind to retire," he said.
His last international appearance was in 2016 when he played against UAE in the Asia Cup. He picked one wicket in that game. His last Test and ODIs were in 2015 against against Sri Lanka and South Africa respectively.
Harbhajan has played 163 matches in the IPL across 13 seasons (he didn't take part in 2020) for Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings, and KKR and has taken 150 wickets at an average of 26 and his best figures being 5/18.
Harbhajan’s rivalry with Australia was among the fiercest in his career and he was responsible for Ricky Ponting’s low scores on Indian soil – he dismissed him five times under 12 in the 2001 series. Although, one of the worst moments in his career also came against Australia in 2008, after his confrontation with Andrew Symonds, which eventually became one of the ugliest incidents in cricket.
After that he had also been banned from the IPL for slapping Sreesanth, his India teammate.
The veteran off-spinner, who made his first-class debut in 1997 for Punjab against Services, also played 198 first-class matches, picking 780 wickets in all.
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