There was an interesting passage of play today when Harbhajan came in to bowl when two of his main antagonists, Hayden and Symonds were at the crease. The two were batting really well and I was very keen to see how the battle ensued. I particularly wanted to see how Harbhajan bowled to Hayden. I was almost confident that Hayden was going to take the attack to Harbhajan and was looking for a couple of big hits.
Things have never been on good terms between the two – it all started out in a tour match between Australia and India A played out at Nagpur in Feb 2001. It was the third day morning and Hayden was on 37 runs. Spin was introduced and Hayden promptly came down the track to take on the bowler, couldn’t quite get to the pitch of the ball and ended up giving a simple catch to Hemang Badani. The bowler was Harbhajan Singh and he is alleged to have said – “You will never succeed in my country!” or something to that affect.
Hayden took offence to that and in spite of all the “What’s said in the field stays on the field” motto, hasn’t forgotten that. The battle on the cricket field between Harbhajan and Hayden has been going on ever since and although he has scored a lot of runs against him, has also been dismissed a fair number of times by Harbhajan Singh.
And along the way, both Hayden and Harbhajan have said or done things that have irked the other team, leading up to Hayden’s “obnoxious weed” comment on radio.
Coming back to the game, Harbhajan’s first over went for 9 runs, with a cover drive from Hayden that went for a four. His next one went for 8 and I was beginning to wonder if Bhajji had already lost the battle. As it turned out, he wasn’t quite finished yet. The next two went for just 5 runs. In the first ball of his fifth over, Symonds decided to attack Harbhajan and ended up hitting straight to Praveen Kumar and on his seventh over Harbhajan had Hayden caught in the deep by Chawla (and what a good catch it was!). I am sure Harbhajan would have been delighted in getting both those wickets, but Hayden had already done the damage with a score of 82.