‘Hopefully, I can perform even better than Ashwin’

Harbhajan Singh, who will represent Chennai Super Kings in the upcoming IPL, says the jersey may change, but the passion remains the same.

India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh at the launch of an online fantasy sports platform in Bengaluru on Tuesday.   -  G.P. SAMPATH KUMAR

 

Harbhajan Singh may have replaced local boy and star performer Ravichandran Ashwin as the primary off-spinner in the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) squad, but he is under no pressure. On the contrary, Harbhajan believes that he can win over the CSK fans by performing “even better than Ashwin did”.

“Ashwin is a local boy for CSK, but we are from the same country. I’m an Indian, first and foremost. People in Chennai love Ashwin, and he did really well for CSK. At the same time, I did well for Mumbai Indians too. Hopefully, I can perform even better than Ashwin did for CSK, to get all the love and affection from the people of Chennai. I wish Ashwin all the very best at Kings XI Punjab,” Harbhajan said at the launch of an online fantasy sports platform here on Tuesday.

Harbhajan is happy with the response he has received from CSK fans so far. “The CSK fans are excited to have me on board. At the same time, it is a little weird for them, because suddenly they see Bhajji tweeting in Tamil. I want CSK fans to feel like I am their big brother representing them on the field," he said.

The Punjab cricketer’s move to CSK marks the end of his successful 10-year stint with three-time champion Mumbai Indians (MI). “I had a great time with MI. The jersey has changed, but my passion remains the same. MI and CSK are two of the best teams in the IPL, so it is nice for me to go from one champion team to another,” he added.

On playing under M.S. Dhoni, Harbhajan said, “I hope we can do for CSK what we did for India — winning two big trophies (2007 ICC Twenty20 World Cup and 2011 ICC 50-over World Cup). M.S. (Dhoni) wanted this CSK team to be an experienced side, and I fit in his scheme of things.”

Bhajji on ball-tampering saga

"At some point in time, all international teams must have done things to get the ball to reverse. It’s not a crime like match-fixing, but at the same time, they are trying to change the nature of the game. Smith and Bancroft may have got their punishment as per the ICC laws, but I think they got away lightly. Everyone saw what Bancroft did, yet he got only 75 per-cent match-fee fine — that’s nothing. The ICC needs to protect the game, and to ensure that everyone plays fair. They have to ensure that if someone gets caught doing something to change the course of the game, the penalty should be higher than what was given to Smith and Bancroft. Some people are talking about banning them for a year or even for life — that’s ridiculous. That’ll be too harsh."