Off spinner, who was Phil Hughes' teammate with Mumbai IPL franchise in 2013, pays rich tribute
Like most others in the cricketing fraternity, Harbhajan Singh too woke up to the shattering news of Aussie cricketer Phil Hughes' untimely demise. It perhaps affected Bhajji more as Hughes had spent a season with Mumbai Indians when they became Indian Premier League champions in 2013.
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Hughes, who would have turned 26 on November 30, passed away two days after being struck by a bouncer on the rear left of the neck while representing South Australia during a Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He did not regain consciousness after that accident.
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"I have seen players getting badly injured, but I never thought someone would get killed. I never thought cricket could kill someone. I don't know what to say... there are no words to describe what has happened.
I am completely shattered since I woke up," an emotional Harbhajan told mid-day yesterday. Hughes was one of the surprise purchases by Mumbai Indians in the auction before IPL-6 in which they had also surprisingly shelled out millions of dollar to acquire Aussie Glenn Maxwell.
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Phil Hughes walks off the ground in a Sheffield Shield game for New South Wales against South Australia at the Adelaide Oval on October 19, 2011. Pic/Getty Images
Though Hughes never got a game for MI, Harbhajan recalled how he was always pumped up. "He was always there, pushing hard in the nets. He was very jovial and a character. I loved talking to him; was a lovely guy off the field. He was like a brother to us. What has happened is very very unfortunate," said India's third highest wicket-taker (413 in 101 matches) in Tests.
Phil even learnt Hindi
India's senior-most off-spinner revealed that Hughes also learnt Hindi during his time with MI. "He spoke decent Hindi like namaste, kaise ho, kidhar ja rahe ho. He learnt the language so that he could communicate better and understand what is being discussed in the dressing room. He was a fun-loving guy," he said.
Harbhajan described Hughes as a "fighter" on the field, but sadly the Aussie couldn't win the battle against the freak accident. "He was a fighter, a very determined guy. He was a great guy to have in the dressing room. He gelled well with the team (Mumbai Indians). A lot of players were attached to him. He will be dearly missed," he said.
Harbhajan's heart also went out to the bowler Sean Abbott, who bowled that bouncer. "He must be really depressed after what has happened. He would be regretting why he bowled that delivery. That bouncer will haunt him forever," signed off Harbhajan.