Harbhajan Singh owes a lot of his international success to Sourav Ganguly. However, this time the protégé will be up against his mentor when the Mumbai Indians take on neighbours Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Wankhede Stadium today.
Buoyed skipper Harbhajan would be eager to continue Mumbai’s winning run, while captain-cum-mentor Ganguly would be keyed up to erase Pune Warriors’ forgettable IPL debut last season.
It was a revival moment in Harbhajan’s international career when skipper Ganguly called for the offie’s inclusion in the 2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy after leading leg-spinner Anil Kumble was ruled out due to an injury.
Harbhajan established himself as India’s leading spinner in that series against Australia by taking 32 wickets, becoming the first Indian bowler to take a hat-trick in Tests.
Coming back to today’s match, Ganguly lavished praised on Harbhajan’s captaincy. “Bhajji is brilliant. I think he’s got the ability to captain India at some stage. You can see that on the field... he won the Champions League for Mumbai Indians. He was brilliant last night (Wednesday) as well. You could see from his body language that he is a great competitor,” Ganguly told reporters on the eve of the match.
“I have always said that I’ll have Bhajji in my squad any day. And I still maintain that. It is purely on the basis of how good he is. He is a top-class competitor,” he added.
Harbhajan was excited to play against his former captain. “I have played against him in the IPL III as well so, it is great to play against these great players. It is fun as well. They (Pune) are a good side and it will be a good game. We want to ensure that our team stays focussed and concentrate on what we are capable of,” said Harbhajan.
Sach hope for Bhajji
Meanwhile, Harbhajan is hopeful that Sachin Tendulkar, who retired hurt in the last match against Chennai Super Kings after getting hit on his right hand index finger, plays today’s first home game. “Nothing has come in the x-ray. We are hopeful he will play tomorrow,” said Harbhajan.
* Sachin Tendulkar is fit to play
* Richard Levi fires again
* Pragyan Ojha keeps a check on the scoring rate
* Lasith Malinga keeps bowling yorkers
* Raining sixes from Kieron Pollard
* I get a fiery start
* Sachin Tendulkar does not play
* Rahul Sharma bowls a dream spell like he did at DY Patil Stadium in the last IPL season
* Manish Pandey plays a blazing knock
* Ashish Nehra provides early breakthroughs