As his team-mates slug it out with Sri Lanka to create history in the Test-series decider at Colombo on Friday, Harbhajan Singh may be wondering as to whether he has become the forgotten man of Indian cricket.
From being that precocious 18-year old teenager who was carted all around the Chinnaswamy Stadium by the Aussies during his Test debut in 1998, ‘Bhajji’ is now a veteran of 103 Test matches and into the twilight of his career.
Despite featuring in that water-shed Test against Bangladesh at Fatullah early on this year (which incidentally was his comeback game), time seems to be running out for the Jalandhar man.
Evidence of that is Harbhajan’s latest non-selection into the Test team after a below-par performance in the first Test at Galle which saw him return match-figures of 1 for 90. Poor considering that the wicket offered ample assistance to spinners.
Even against Bangladesh, despite bagging a three-wicket haul in the first essay, Harbhajan never really looked potent enough to make in-roads and looked like a far flung shadow of his yesteryears.
A place in the ODI squad too resembles a mirage for the 37-year old now and him turning out for the Country again seems out of question in any format of the game post this latest axing.
If getting the axe from the 2015 World Cup squad was a blow then even more telling was him being not included in the ODI’s against Bangladesh.
Another matter of concern for Harbhajan will be the fact that India having unearthed another front-line spinner in Axar Patel to partner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Add to that Amit Mishra’s rejuvenation and recent performance in the second Test and Harbhajan is suddenly pitted against three spinners to contend with!
Irrespective of whether India break their 22-year Test-series drought on Sri Lankan soil or not, Harbhajan surely has some serious soul searching to do if he is to ensure that the remaining time of his career does not rush into oblivion.
While Harbhajan’s inclusion in the upcoming home series against South Africa (starting in November, 2015) will definitely be a long shot, a back door entry may yet be possible when India tour Australia in 2016 for what could prove to be a humdinger of an ODI series.
And what better way for redemption than battling it out with the old enemy!
Encore of 2001anyone?