Harbhajan Singh has been released by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and will be up for grabs in the upcoming IPL 2021 auction. CSK bought the off-spinner three seasons ago for his base price of 2 crores. He played in the 2018 and 2019 season picking up 23 wickets at an economy of 7.67 – Harbhajan pulled out last year owing to personal reasons.
Before playing for MS Dhoni’s team, Harbhajan was a core member of the Mumbai Indians. He bowled for MI for 10 seasons, winning 3 titles, and snared 127 wickets at a miserly economy of 6.99. The 40-year-old has been released by CSK back in the auction pool and will look for some bidders to continue his professional career.
IPL 2021 Auction: 3 Teams Which Can Target Harbhajan Singh
Kings XI Punjab
Harbhajan Singh could, for the first time, play for his state IPL franchise – Kings XI Punjab, and reunite with his former bowling partner, Anil Kumble, who was appointed Kings’ head coach before last season.
The KL Rahul-led side has offloaded Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Jagadeesha Suchith, and K Gowtham – they are left with only one right-arm off-spinner in youngster Harpreet Brar. Hence, KXIP, who finished 6th last season, could go after the experienced Harbhajan Singh, who could also play the role of a mentor to the likes of Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin.
Rajasthan Royals, the wooden spoon holders of IPL 2020, might look to include the ‘Turbanator’ with over 700 international wickets into their squad for IPL 2021. RR has retained Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, and Mayank Markande; all leg-spinners.
Since they have a heavy dose of overseas players – three of which Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, and Jos Buttler are regular starters – it is unlikely that they will chase any foreign spinner, especially for Indian pitches, which is not the most favoured tactic. The huge experience of Harbhajan Singh can come in handy considering Gopal’s disappointing season in the UAE and that Markhande did not feature in a single game for the inaugural champions.
Similar to the Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad also faces the problem – happy problem – of a surplus of overseas players – which meant that Mohammad Nabi played just a solitary game last year, and Fabien Allen could not be included for a single match in IPL 2020.
The David Warner-led outfit has retained the left-arm spinner, Shahbaz Nadeem. However, he could be a liability against teams with plenty of left-handers and is more of a defensive option rather than a wicket-taking one in T20 cricket – in 10 matches for SRH he has 7 wickets.
On the other hand, Harbhajan Singh has had success bowling in the powerplay – Dhoni used Bhajji smartly against the left-handers with the new ball. On tracks that will offer assistance for the spinners, Harbhajan in the powerplay and Rashid Khan in the middle-overs will have the work cut out for the batters.