Chennai: Harbhajan Singh, on Thursday, admitted at a news conference of being a little nervous ahead of his 100th Test on Friday.
The off-spinner also revealed that he has mellowed down from his earlier feisty self.
The following are excerpts
On when he was told that he would be playing the Chennai Test
I was told this morning that I would be playing.
Playing his first and 100th Test against Australia
I don't know if I have a special connection with Australia… But it's nice to see your name alongside with the greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Sunny Gavaskar and others.
I remember playing my first Test under Mohammed Azharuddin's captaincy in Bangalore, I had no clue about what's happening. I was just a little kid in the park… I was star struck playing alongside my heroes… It was a great moment. I have come a long way from there.
At that moment, I never thought I'd play 100 Test matches. God has been really kind. I would like to thank the Almighty for giving me this opportunity. And, of course, my teammates and seniors like Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid…
The gap between his 98th and 100th Tests
It's obviously a big moment for me. And rather than looking at the gap, I would like to look ahead so that there's no such gap in the future. I would like to ignore all that and look ahead and play well.
The Nervous 90s...
It's a big game. 99 is gone, and this is like another Test match… I'm a bit nervous to start with. I'm sure I'll be fine. I've faced this kind of situations before, I've gone through a lot of time when I was not doing well... These things happen. Once I get past 100, let's see what needs to be done to play another 50. Probably I'll have to work even harder.
On being the third spinner vs England, in his last Test, in Mumbai
At the end of the day, 11 people walk in to do the job… You're doing things for the team… It does not matter whether you're the No. 2 spinner or the No. 3 spinner. I don't mind playing as the No. 4 as long as I get to do the job for the team
Whether playing against the inexperienced Australian side help overcome nervousness
It's nothing to do with whether I'm playing against Australia or Bangladesh. It's a number you have in your mind. When you're batting in your 90s, you think about what you've got to do to get to 100. It's going to start at 9.30, and I'll be fine. Before every game you feel a bit nervous and it's very normal. If I don't feel that way I shouldn't be playing, I guess.
His prediction that India will win 4-0
If we play well and stick to the basics, it is very hard to beat us in India, although we didn't win the last series here... We didn't play to our potential… This is an opportunity to show our capabilities. We have been the No. 1 team in the world. We worked hard to achieve that. These are the same guys who've taken the team to that position… Why I said we could beat them 4-0 is that if we believe we can do it, we will work towards it. You've got to believe in yourself to make things happen…
On whether it's going to be a pace vs spin contest
I don't know what team they're going to play... They might change it before the match!
On his journey so far
It's been a journey with lots of ups and downs. No one can always be at the top, and no one will be always down... What I've learnt from these great players is to never give up. I've definitely grown up… I was 17-and-a-half when I made mu debut… And now I'm 32… I've mellowed down, with time you learn a few things... I've made a few mistakes earlier in my career, due to my extra aggression.
Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. But with time, I've learnt a lot. I'm looking forward to being a better person.
On what has helped him to be a better person
My age helped me... It's come with age.
Most cherished moment...
The series against Australia in 2001… Then, when we became the No. 1 Test side in the world… That was very satisfying.
The 2001 series vs Australia
That was a long way backn. That kind of a series happens once in a lifetime... All I can say is that I'll put in more effort than I had put in then, and hope for the results...