VISAKHAPATNAM: Harbhajan Singh has said that his comeback in the T20 series against New Zealand will be the beginning of a "new chapter" in his career, following an extended international downtime of over a year.
"I won't say this is a second debut but yes, it's going to be a new day and a new chapter for me," he said.
The 32-year-old last played international cricket in August, 2011, before being sidelined by injury and R. Ashwin’s rising star.
"It's not that I was dropped for the first time last year. But it has been for the longest period of time. It makes you feel as if you are doing it for the first time," he said.
Despite an experience of 98 Tests and 229 ODIs, the off-spinner said a return to India colors always involved the constant challenge of passing critical assessment.
"It's always tough when you are out. Making a comeback is tougher than earning your maiden International call. It involves a lot of things. When you're out, you get injured and then again out. It's always been challenging."
Harbhajan has been playing for English county Essex, where he picked up 11 wickets in two matches, before single-handedly (5/37, 22) blasting his team to a win over Netherlands in a Pro-40 game.
"I was ready to work hard and take challenge. You get your family and friends support, but at the end of the day you're all alone fighting it out there in the middle. With
Almighty's help, I'm here again and now I'm looking forward towards doing well," he said.
Harbhajan said he was always eager to perform well for the country without resting on the past laurels, and that it was his willpower ad desire to play for the country that had brought him into contention again.
"You cannot live in the past glory. For anyone, it does not depend what you've done in the past but what you do in the present and future. In my case, I had the willpower and the desire to wear the India jersey again-- it's the biggest thing for me. It makes me proud."
It will be a double comeback against New Zealand as cancer survivor Yuvraj Singh also returns to the international fold.
"We all are proud of Yuvraj,” Bhajji said, “He has always been a true fighter. There was fear and doubt about the life-threatening disease. But he never had any doubt and was always positive."
"The sufferer only feels the real pain. The days' must be quite long for him when he was taking chemotherapy... Glad that he has come out strong. Obviously, it will inspire all the cancer patients. Hats off to him for the way he fought it with mother by his side. He is a role model," he added.
Harbhajan was part of the 2007 World T20 winning side. He called the experience a life-changing one. “It was a tournament that changed Indian cricket. We were never the favourites. Nobody actually felt that we could win it. Everybody wrote us off saying we're a young side. Moreover, the format was new to us. Despite all odds, we did it.”
“Now with IPL, the guys are really doing well in this format. It's always an honour to represent the country in World Cup. We all are looking forward to it. Hope to enjoy the moment playing in the World Cup and come out with flying colours,” he added.
On his rivalry with Ashwin, Harbhajan said, “He has done very well for India. It's great to see Indian bowlers doing well. I've always stated that healthy competition is always good. I'm looking forward towards forging a potent partnership with him.”