Ravichandran Ashwin became the next big thing in India’s off-spinner department when he replaced Harbhajan Singh in the Indian team. The two spinners are often pitted against each other in terms of statistics and their tactics to take wickets. On Monday evening, both lauded each other in an Instagram live chat on Ashwin’s ReminiscewithAsh show.
While talking about India’s famous Test series win over Australia at Chepauk in 2001, Ashwin revealed how Harbhajan’s actions gave him a lesson on sportsmanship and camaraderie among the teammates.
“I have never missed a Test at Chepauk… I might have played in them or watched it from the stands. So I was there during that Test. I saw you going to Bahutule (Sairaj Bahutule) and apologising for dropping Hayden earlier. My father pointed out the sportsman’s spirit between the two players. He told me about how the players get along with the game and focus on the next ball. So it left a deep impact on me,” Ashwin recalled the incident when he was a 14-year-old budding cricketer in the stands.
“I was feeling disappointed because Hayden went on to score a double ton. And Bahutule couldn’t take many wickets despite bowling well. But he told me to let go of it and said these things happen. He was actually my room partner during that Test but he never mentioned about the incident even after we returned to our room,” Harbhajan said.
The Jalandhar-born cricketer took Hayden’s wicket after the opener had scored 203 runs to take Australia’s score to 391. Harbhajan took seven wickets in the innings whereas Bahutule took just one wicket of Mark Waugh in 21 overs he bowled. India won the match by two wickets and Harbhajan was named ‘Player of the match’ for taking 15 wickets.
Harbhajan said that 33-year-old Ashwin is the best off-spinner in the world right now. The Chennai-born off-spinner has 365 wickets to his name, 52 less than Harbhajan. The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) also rated Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon ”highly” as he has been able to dominate in challenging Australian pitches.
“A lot of people would say that there is a lot of jealousy between us. But I would want to call out to those detractors and say there is nothing like that. Ashwin is the best offie in the world right now. I also rate Nathan Lyon highly.
“The Aussie (offie) is also up there because he has done extremely well for himself given the fact that he comes from Australia where the pitches hardly aid spinners. But Ashwin is a legend in the making. Going forward, I only want him to stay fit because he is capable of taking a lot more wickets and could finish among the highest wicket-takers in the world,” Harbhajan signed off.