HARBHAJAN SINGH (CHENNAI, 2001)
In the decisive Third Test of 2001 against Waugh’s Australians, Harbhajan’s stunning 15-wicket haul was pivotal. The series was locked at 1-1, Australia’s winning streak of 16 had been broken, but by the time Chennai came around, it seemed normality had been restored. Certainly it had for Matthew Hayden, who added 203 to his already mountainous series.
In Australia’s first-innings 391, Harbhajan ominously took seven and, as the pitch deteriorated, the Aussies knew he was ready to repeat the effort. A versatile and effective off-spinner with a mean doosra and a provocative manner, Harbhajan had been named by Murali himself as his successor.
The “Turbanator” lived up to his billing, but despite Harbhajan having already sliced through a powerful batting line-up on day four with formidable bounce and spin, the Aussies began the final day at 7-241, hoping still for a substantial lead. Skipper Waugh was still in but Harbhajan swept aside the final three, including the obstinate Waugh, taking 8-82 overall. India had plenty of time to knock off the 155 needed. They did so with a mere two wickets in hand. In a tense finish, Harbhajan hit the winning runs. Almost half his 32 wickets for the series came in this one match.