It is a common practice to research before you create something. So while writing this blog, I was reading about Harbhajan, my brother came and asked: “Are you writing on Bhajji?”
I reverted affirmatively and he told the story of how Harbhajan got this name – “Bhajji”.
The name was given by Nayan Mongia, a former Indian cricket team player, and wicketkeeper who had a habit of motivating and advising the team players in the field. So, when Harbhajan had to bowl, Nayan used to call him Bhajji to provoke enthusiasm, as Harbhajan was a big name to say.
Soon everyone in the nation was familiar with this name, Harbhajan also introduced a sports lifestyle brand as “Bhajji”. Now the name that started as an “on-field nickname” is a brand, isn’t it amazing!
Well, this is a popular name in our land, but what about the global spectrum?
Globally Harbhajan is known as “Turbanator”.
The name reflects turban and was given by Australian media after the second test match of Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the year 2001 when Harbhajan dismissed the entire Australian team by taking 13 wickets.
All of these events transpired after Harbhajan’s international debut, but what was his life before that. Let’s time travel to 20 years back and see how it all started.
Born on 3rd July 1980 and brought up in a Sikh family, Harbajan Singh Plaha was the only son of Sardar Sardev Singh Plaha. His father was a businessman and Harbajan was also slanted towards his family business. However, his father wanted him to play for India and always supported his game.
Initially, his cricket practice was inspiring him to be a batsman mentored by his first coach Charanjit Singh, later he moved to spin bowling under the training of his second coach Davinder Arora.
Harbhajan’s practice schedule with Davinder would last from Dusk to Dawn marking a three-hour training session in the morning and then proceeding from 3:00 p.m. till sunset in the evening.
At a very young age, Harbhajan lost his father and was shattered. He became the family head and started supporting his family in one or the other way.
His father’s aspiration always inspired him to become a leading spinner and first Indian bowler to take a hat trick in Test cricket.
Every year gave him a new opportunity, starting from playing in the nation to playing for the nation. In every step, Harbhajan faced challenges and overcame them very smoothly.
|1995-96||Harbhajan was picked to play for Punjab Under-16s at the age of 15 years in November, it was his debut against Delhi.|
|1995-96||His performance in Under 16 led him to be selected for the next tournament against Himachal Pradesh where he was responsible for 11 wickets and the innings win. He concluded the entire season with 32 wickets in four matches.|
|1995-96||He was directly selected for the team to represent all of northern India that is for North Zone Under-16s, he took two wickets in four matches and secured 18 runs. At the end of the season, he was a part of the national Under-19 team to play for a youth One Day International against South Africa.|
|1996-97||Promoted to play for Punjab Under-19s and he took 15 wickets at 20Twenty in three matches.|
|1997||Made the first-class debut during the 1997-1998 Ranji Trophy season. Secured a total of 3 wickets and dropped back to Under 19. However, he played marvelously in the next two games and got selected for the Duleep trophy.|
|1998||Got approbation with a chance to represent India in the Under-19 world cup. He played for six matches and took 8 wickets.|
|2000||Selected as the first group of trainees to be mentored under Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivas Venkataraghavan in the National cricket academy.|
|2000-2001||National selection started|
After Anil Kumble’s broken jaw injury during the Antigua Test tournament, Harbhajan Singh was selected to play against Australia.
|2001||Selected to play for Border- Gavaskar Trophy against Australia took 32 wickets and was named as man of the match and man of series became India’s first-choice spinner.|
|2001-2002||Test fortunes improved with the start of the international season in India. The tournament was held in Punjab and Harbhajan took 7 wickets. The game was astonishing and India won the series.|
|2002||Touring to West Indies, he got injured making a total of 5/70 and was forced to miss the first test in Guyana but recalled in the fifth to play at Sabina Park.|
|2002||Played for ICC Champions Trophy held in Sri Lanka, securing 3 wickets, 1 made- in over, and only 27 runs in 10 overs.|
|2003||Took 11 wickets and was steady throughout the tournament becoming the fourth leading wicket-taker for India after Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, and Javagal Srinath.|
|2003||Suffered finger injury during the world cup and went through surgery.|
|2004||He returned to the game after 7 months and represented India in Asia Cup and took four wickets.|
|2005||After the injury Harbhajan’s game was not at the same pace it used to be. In The Test series against Pakistan, Harbhajan finished the series with 10 wickets.|
|2006||Beginning with the worst record for Harbhajan Singh, it was a test series in Pakistan where he recorded his worst ever test figures giving 27 runs in one over to Shahid Afridi.|
|2007||There were many more tournaments in 2006 where Harbhajan was criticized but despite all these criticisms he was concentrating on his bowling and was selected as the off-spin bowler in the Indian team for the 2007 world cup.
Although he managed to take only 6 wickets in 7 matches he was responsible to slow down the flow of runs.
|2007||Returned to the team for ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa and India won the tournament.|
|2009||He was a part of World Twenty20 and ended the tournament with 5 wickets, India was eliminated in the first match. He then struggled at ICC Champions Trophy taking only 1/71 from eight overs.|
|2011||Following bad performances, he was injured on the tour to England and was ruled out of the series.|
|2013||Recalled to the Test team after 2 years for a Test against Bangladesh.|
|2015||Recognized as the ninth highest wicket-taker in Tests.|
|2017||Harbhajan was excluded from the Indian team champion trophy and claimed that he did not receive the same privileges as the other players.|
Harbhajan’s journey was full of ups and downs. Every time life dragged him down, he rose to shine. His incredible game form reimbursed him with two prestigious honors of India, Arjuna Award in 2003 and Padma Shri in 2009
Love @ first sight!
Harbhajan saw Geeta Basra in the song “Woh Ajnabee” and it was love at first sight for him. He revealed in an interview that he asked his friend about her and managed to arrange her number.
He approached her for a date. She replied after 4 days with a congratulating text when India won the T20 world cup.
They finally met for the first time during the IPL and she agreed to go out for a coffee. With time their friendship grew and they decided to get married.
On 29th October 2015, the couple finally got married and are together since giving everybody else couple of goals.
Harbhajan has always played with passion and became an attacking-minded bowler with the ability to play on varied grounds.
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