Harbhajan Singh will be turning 40 in July, but he believes he is fit and “ready” to play for India in T20Is. Having featured in four IPL finals with the two most successful sides in the tournament – Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings – Singh said he had the experience and skill to add value for India in the shortest format.
“I’m ready,” Singh told ESPNcricinfo in an interview which will be published later this week. “If I can bowl well in IPL, which is a very difficult tournament for bowlers because the grounds are smaller, and all the top players in world cricket play in the IPL…it is very challenging to bowl against them and if you can do well against them in IPL, you can do well in international cricket. I have bowled predominantly in the powerplay and middle overs and got wickets.”
Incidentally, the last time Singh played for India, it was in the T20 format in 2016, when he featured in a solitary game in the Asia Cup, which preceded the T20 World Cup that year. However, Singh has remained one of the best spinners in the IPL. He is the joint third-highest wicket-taker in the league with 150 strikes at an economy rate of 7.05.
After playing for Mumbai for ten seasons, Singh was bought by Super Kings at his base price of INR 2 crore. Trouble in his knees restricted Singh’s impact in IPL 2018, which Super Kings won on their return to the league, and he managed only seven wickets in 13 games at an economy rate of 8.48. However, in IPL 2019, Singh stepped up with 16 wickets in 11 matches at an economy rate of 7.09. In the IPL 2019 final against his former team Mumbai, Singh went wicketless in his four overs and then watched Super Kings lose by one run in a tense chase.
In terms of longevity and consistency, Singh has been among the best fingerspinners in the IPL. While Sunil Narine and R Ashwin, the other successful fingerspinners in the league, have tried out different actions and added more variations to their repertoire, Singh has stuck to his classical offspin.
Despite Singh and Ashwin being the most consistent Indian fingerspinners in the IPL, in recent times, both the Indian team management and the selection committee have preferred Ravindra Jadeja, Washington Sundar, Krunal Pandya and wristspinners – Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Rahul Chahar – over them.
Playing for India in T20s, Ashwin has taken 52 wickets in 46 matches at an economy rate of 6.97 while striking every 19.7 balls. Harbhajan (28 matches) has 25 wickets at 6.20 while taking a wicket every 24 balls. Sundar, mainly picked to bowl in the powerplay has 19 wickets in 23 matches at economy of 6.93 striking every 24 balls.
As far as the IPL is concerned, since 2017, Harbhajan has the best economy in powerplay of 7.68 followed by Sundar at 8.16 and Ashwin at 8.30. In the middle overs, Harbhajan’s economy is 7.08 while Sundar’s is 7.48 and Ashwin has 7.54.
Singh said that he was hurt that the selectors hadn’t considered him despite his IPL success. “They will not look at me because they feel I am too old,” he said. “Also I don’t play any domestic cricket. [In the] Last four-five years they did not look at me even though I was doing well in the IPL, taking wickets and I had all my records to back my case.”
According to Singh, IPL is the toughest tournament in T20 cricket and having excelled there, he felt he had the self-belief to return to the national side.
“In international cricket not all teams have quality players like IPL teams, where every team has a top-six which is good,” Singh said. “Yes, Australia, England, India have all got very good batting line-ups. But if I can get Johnny Bairstow and David Warner in IPL, don’t you think I can get them in international cricket? But it is not in my hands. No one comes and talk to you in this present Indian set-up.”
The full interview with Harbhajan Singh will be published on May 28
Source: ESPN Crickinfo