Harbhajan Singh’s career has effectively found a new lease on the back of a move from the Chennai Super Kings to the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
The veteran Indian spinner was arguably in danger of becoming obsolete after missing the 2020 edition of the IPL and missing competitive cricket for almost two years.
He has, however, fitted into the Kolkata squad – and playing XI – relatively well. Harbhajan’s first match for KKR this season was against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai.
Kolkata won the match by 10 runs and inspired confidence in those backing them for a third title on the list of best betting sites in India. The Knight Riders won the IPL in 2012 and 2014 and are priced at 16.0 with bet365, Betway and others to do so again this year. The Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals are the favourites with these bookies, though, and are each priced at 3.0.
— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) April 19, 2021
Singh debuted in international cricket as far back as 1998 – and has collected 103 Test, 206 ODI and 28 T20I appearances ago. He likened his recent debut for KKR to his first cap for India more than 20 years ago.
“Well, it did feel like I was playing my first game for India only. It was sort of, you know, getting back to the ground was so much fun. This has been my life. Being there and celebrating with my teammates was a great outing,” enthused Harbhajan.”
“I am the kind of player who wants to do what the team requires, even if it means less opportunity. Like I bowled just one over in my first game. But the IPL is a long tournament, and I know I will have to do more work on a night, like deliver four overs. The sport of cricket has remained the same, just the thought process has gotten complicated.”
Singh, who has also represented the Mumbai Indians, is 40 years old – and among the top five wicket-takers in the tournament’s history. The IPL started in 2008. Only Lasith Malinga, Amit Mishra, Dwayne Bravo and Piyush Chawla have more IPL wickets than Singh. These four players are seamers or leg-spinners. Harbhajan, therefore, is the most prolific off-spinner in the IPL.
The competition, too, has some talented left-arm wrist-spinners, including Kuldeep Yadav. Harbhajan and Yadav are teammates at the Knight Riders.
“First, I want to say that Kuldeep is a big-match winner. When he was playing for India, nobody told him how to bowl. The qualities he had before, he still has them, and in fact he has gotten better. Sometimes players go through a phase when the best results are not coming, but their efforts remain the same,” added Singh.
“Knowing Kuldeep, whatever I have seen him, I know he is a hard worker, and he will come back strong. This has happened with the greatest of bowlers that you’re bowling good spells but not getting wickets. It’s part and parcel of the game, and I don’t see anything wrong with Kuldeep’s bowling. I know he will come good for KKR and later on for India as well.”
While Harbhajan and Kuldeep are among KKR’s finest local talents, the squad is lined with several international stars. These include captain Eoin Morgan of England, all-rounder Andre Russell of the West Indies, fast bowler Pat Cummins of Australia – and New Zealand duo, Tim Seifert and Lockie Ferguson.
If Kolkata win the title this year, they will become the joint second most successful team in the history of the IPL. Mumbai have five titles. The Chennai Super Kings have three. Hyderabad and the Rajasthan Royals have won the tournament once each. Delhi, the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Punjab Kings have never won the tournament.