Former Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh career’s turning point was undeniably the 2001 series against Australia, which Australia lost despite being 1-0 up in the rubber. That particular series spelt terror amongst the Australian batsmen, specifically Ricky Ponting, who Harbhajan Singh dismissed on five occasions. The veteran off-spinner has opened up on the same.
The Turbanator played a significant role in registering a victory in Kolkata during that series. India came back to win the match after Australia enforced the follow-on. Following the historical partnership between Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, Harbhajan spun a web around the tourists in pursuit of 384 in the fourth innings. His six wickets during the fourth innings included a hattrick as well.
Speaking about the same, the 40-year old opined that Ponting’s lack of concentration was the reason for his repeated failures against him. Moving forward from that series, Harbhajan Singh felt as if Ponting was not focussing on the ball and instead was getting out merely by watching the spinner’s face.
The prolific Australian batsman managed scores of 0, 6, 0, 0, and 11 during the series. Ponting’s overall Test average amounts to an impressive 51.85 in 168 fixtures which comes down to 26.48 from 14 games in India. The Jalandhar-born has dimissed the 45-year old ten times.
“After that when the 2001 series happened it felt like he was not playing the ball but getting out just by watching my face. He was not focusing on the ball at all, if he was focusing on the ball I don’t think anyone would get out so many times and that too so easily,” the finger spinner said in the Star Sports’ show Cricket Connected.
“I got a bit scared if he would really hit me” : Harbhajan Singh
The 103-Test veteran spoke about the time when he dismissed the Tasmanian for the first time, which was in an ODI in Sharjah. The CSK spinner got him stumped and revealed he said something offensive to Ponting for which he also received a ban.
“First time I dismissed Ricky Ponting was in Sharjah. It was an ODI match and I got him stumped. After dismissing him, I said something to him that I didn’t know much about. My English wasn’t too good at that time, I had heard that word from a lot of people, so I also said that,”
He continued by saying that after he hurled those words at him, the right-handed batsman came towards him holding his bat. Hence, Harbhajan Singh felt scared if Ponting was going to hit him.
“Because of that I got banned from the next match. But my memory is that when he got out and I signalled him to go out, he came towards me with his bat as though he was going to hit me. So, I got a bit scared if he would really hit me,” the veteran added, who has 417 Test victims.