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Harbhajan Singh Biography

Harbhajan Singh Bowler

Last Updated – 11 July 2019


Harbhajan Singh: Successful Off-Spin Bowler

Harbhajan Singh Plaha was born on July 3, 1980 in Jalandhar, Punjab. He is rated as India’s most successful off-spin bowlers. He is also a right handed batsman. He also holds the record of being the first Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in Test cricket. Bhajji or The Turbanator (referring to his skill as a bowler in concluding the innings of the opposing team), as Harbhajan Singh is popularly called by his team mates was born in a middle class family to a businessman father. Although being the only son of son of Sardar Sardev Singh Plaha, a businessman who owned a ball bearing and valve factory, he was in line to inherit the business, but  his father encouraged him to play cricket. Trained as a batsman first, he later started off spin bowling under the training of  Davinder Arora because of the untimely death of his first coach Charanjit Singh Bhullar. 

Harbhajan Singh made his Test debut against Australia on March 25, 1998 in Bangalore. Despite a good ODI performance he was overlooked for international cricket for the next 2 years including the 1999 World Cup. His career was initially affected by investigations into the legality of his bowling action, and several disciplinary incidents.

Harbhajan Singh’s career was resurrected by the then Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, as Ganguly was the one who called him to play in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy of 2001-02 when the leading leg spinner Anil Kumble got injured. His outstanding performance in the series victory against Australia in India (32 wickets), including a first ever hat-trick by an Indian bowler in a Test innings, saw him emerge as the Man of the Series. His Test success earned him a place in India’s ODI team.

After a major finger surgery in 2003 sidelining him for a year, that saw Kumble regain his position as the first choice spinner in Tests and ODI’s, Harbhajan Singh returned to the ODI scene in July 2004. His return to the Test scene was again versus Australia where he put up a good performance again.

Harbhajan Singh also holds the record for being the second youngest player to claim 200 Test wickets.  He is known in the cricketing circuit as an unorthodox bowler who was attacking and had an aggressive attitude.

As Harbhajan’s accumulation of wickets fell and his bowling average increased, he was increasingly criticised for bowling defensively with less loop over two years. He reacquired his regular position in the team in late 2007 but became the subject of more controversy, although getting selected for the 2007 World Cup squad. Following India’s first-round elimination from the 2007 Cricket World Cup, he was replaced by other spinners in the national squad for both formats.

In early 2008, he was put under a ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for racially defaming an Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds.

The ban was rescinded upon appeal, but in April Singh was banned from the 2008 Indian Premier League and suspended from the ODI team by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for slapping Sreesanth, another  Indian cricketer, after a match. The cricketer has also appeared in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling‘s Indian promotion, Ring Ka King.

He was part of the winning Indian squad of 2011 Cricket World Cup.

Harbhajan Singh got married to actress Geeta Basra, on October 29, 2015 in Jalandhar. They have been blessed with a daughter, Hinaya Heer Plaha, born on July 27, 2016.

Test Wicket Milestones:

Among off spinners, Harbhajan is the second highest wicket-taker in test history and he is the third-highest test wicket-taker among all Indians. Harbhajan’s average with the ball in home test matches hovers in the mid-20s. All five of his Man of the Match awards and both of his Man of the Series awards have been obtained in India. Outside India, his bowling average climbs to around 40. According to census, his bowling in Test matches is most efficacious against the West Indies and Australia. This Indian bowler is less reliant on aiming at the stumps for his discharge; he captures more than 60% of his wickets via catches and less than 25% by bowling or trapping batsmen leg before wicket. Harbhajan is known for his excitable and outgoing celebrations, which may intimidate the opposition.

In 2009, he was conferred the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour.