Harbhajan Singh is keen to play T20Is for India again, holding up his performances in the IPL to show he’s still good enough for the international level.
With 150 wickets in the tournament, which makes him the third-highest wicket-taker, and four IPL final appearances across his time with Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, Harbhajan is vastly experienced. He says the quality and the challenges posed by the tournament are comparable to what players face at the international level.
“I’m ready,” Harbhajan told ESPNcricinfo. “If I can bowl well in IPL, which is a very difficult tournament for bowlers because the grounds are smaller, and all the top players in world cricket play in the IPL … it is very challenging to bowl against them.
“If you can do well against them in IPL, you can do well in international cricket. I have bowled predominantly in the Powerplay and middle overs and got wickets.”
Harbhajan’s last appearance for India came in a T20I during the Asia Cup in 2016. He has since been overlooked by the selectors, despite his performances in the IPL. The off-spinner put that down to his age – he’s 39 – as well as the fact that he doesn’t play too much domestic cricket.
That, however, didn’t stop him from being hurt. “They will not look at me because they feel I am too old,” he said. “Also, I don’t play any domestic cricket. [In the] last four-five years they did not look at me even though I was doing well in the IPL, taking wickets and I had all my records to back my case.”
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India have, over the last few years, preferred Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav as their spin options in limited-overs cricket, with even Rahul Chahar and Washington Sundar on the fringes of the team. Harbhajan, along with R Ashwin, has been sidelined.
“In international cricket, not all teams have quality players like IPL teams, where every team has a top six which is good,” Harbhajan said. “Yes, Australia, England, India have all got very good batting line-ups.
“But if I can get Johnny Bairstow and David Warner in IPL, don’t you think I can get them in international cricket? But it is not in my hands. No one comes and talk to you in this present Indian set-up.”