Dare I say it? For as long as I can recall, India has been looking for that missing piece of the puzzle: an all-rounder. Kapil Dev was the last of the genuine ones India had in its ranks. Many since have flattered only to deceive. Manoj Prabhakar had his moments, as did Sourav Ganguly. But consistency denied them the tag of true all-rounders. Hopes had once been pitted on even Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag and even Ajit Agarkar. None delivered.
Once again, as only a true Indian cricket fan can, I shall pin hopes, all and sundry on Harbhajan Singh. After all, the man is India’s leading run-scorer in the series. Two scores of 100-plus and a 50 cannot be ignored. And it isn’t like he hasn’t taken wickets either.
That Bhajji has been prepared to work on his batting at this stage in his career itself is a big thing to me. Hitherto someone who would be expected to contribute the odd 20 and plenty of entertainment, Harbhajan’s recent batting efforts are seriously noteworthy. Unfortunately, only 5 wickets (as at the time of start of New Zealand’s second innings in Hyderabad) in three innings doesn’t do him justice. Four of those came in the first innings in Hyderabad.
So what is an all-rounder for India supposed to do? It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that he needs to be cricket’s equivalent of the iPhone. All-pervading, always winning, good-looking and with a ton of features, apps and fans to support him! Does Harbhajan fit the bill? Sure. Obviously, as with the iPhone, this judgement is very subjective and there will be those who would scoff at it. So be it. They can go get an Android or a BlackBerry, or worse, a Symbian!
Think of some of the names previously mentioned and try to fit all the above attributes to them. You can’t. Not even to (blasphemy alert) Sachin Tendulkar (*gasp*). As Harbhajan’s batting average edges towards the right side of 20 and his bowling average towards the right side of 30, his age, slowly but surely headed towards the wrong side of 30 could be the only deterrent. Could be a case of the mind being willing but the body not following.
For now, to my mind, that description is fit for Harbhajan. Cricket’s iPhone.