Harbhajan Singh and three-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians share a very special bond indeed.
The veteran off-spinner has been an integral part of the unit in all highs and lows, and his association with the team goes back in 2008. Bhajji led the team to glory in the 2011 Champions League T20 and was also the side’s man in charge for the 2012 edition of the IPL, where the Mumbai Indians finished fourth.
This is exactly why fans were in for a rude shock when Harbhajan wasn’t a part of Mumbai’s XI for the IPL 2017 playoffs and finals. Watching Mumbai Indians win the IPL without the presence of Harbhajan Singh in the playing XI didn’t go down quite well with the fans and the off-spinner opened up about the same in an interview with NDTV.
“Obviously frustrating when you’re sitting out and watching the game and it is something which is out of your control,” Harbhajan said about not being part of the playing XI for the final. “Till last year, I was part of the management that used to pick the playing XI. But this time I needed to spend time with my family,” he said.
Harbhajan added, that the decision to play a leg spinner (Karn Sharma) instead of him was taken purely on the basis of the opposition and on tactical grounds.
“I respect the management’s decision. I won’t cry about this. I am a team man. Mahela Jayawardene spoke to me about a lot of right-handers in the Pune team so they want to play a leg-spinner but as an offie, most of my wickets in any formats have been right-handers,” the off-spinner said.
On being asked if he would have liked to be in the playing XI for the final, Harbhajan answered in the affirmative.
“I believe. This is what I feel. But in the end what matters is that we won,” he concluded.