Hyderabad, May 1 -- Harbhajan Singh falls into the bracket of players who wear emotions on their sleeves. After an indifferent last season, the off-spinner appears a transformed man, the drooping shoulders giving way to an animated spinner on top of his game. When Mumbai Indians take on Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium, the wicket-taking form of their off-spinner will be crucial.
On Saturday, the Chris Gayle threat loomed large as Royal Challengers Bangalore visited Mumbai, the Jamaican fresh from his eye-popping 175 not out.
Harbhajan proved the perfect counter, tossing up the ball. The guile and flight beat the batsman, who holed out to deep mid-wicket.
He then demonstrated he was back to being his old self, breaking into the Gangnam dance, imitating Gayle's favourite steps.
Things only got better in the next match against Kings XI Punjab. Inducing leading edges from Gurkeerat Singh and Azhar Mahmood meant he was beating batsmen for lack of pace.
Harbhajan picked up three wickets in quick succession to keep Mumbai ahead in a game they won by four runs.
With 11 wickets in his bag, Harbhajan is the joint top wicket-taker for Mumbai with Mitchell Johnson. While his average is an impressive 20.27, the economy rate has dipped under seven.
Last year, in his desperation to scalp wickets, he started trying too many things. The consistency disappeared and he started bowling too flat. Being the Mumbai skipper meant there was too much on his plate.
Mumbai crashed out in the eliminator against Chennai Super Kings as Harbhajan went wicketless.
Losing his India spot seems to have acted as a catalyst. Having former India spin partner, Anil Kumble, the team's mentor, and coach John Wright, in the dug out also seems be working.
The T20 league is seen as the stepping stone for the young and talented. For Harbhajan, it could well be the route to rediscovering himself.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.