Why is it that the certain Indian players you wish would make a comeback — Mohammed Kaif, anyone? Anyone? — never get a look-in, but Harbhajan Singh forever returns, like a bad rash? I don’t mean to begrudge another man’s success; obviously, taking four wickets on a comeback match is an ideal storyline (spoiled only slightly by the fact that the wickets in question were English, never the best players of spin). Indian fans, I suspect, will always have a special place for Harbhajan thanks to his Eden Garden heroics all those years ago. He is a charming rogue, and because he performs at just the right moments, he leaves a more indelible mark on our memory than the consistent, boring, two-wicket-a-match types.
But, but, but! We never questioned Harbhajan’s ability to seize the big moment. Like Freddie Flintoff, he is a Big Moment Man: when the plot calls for a twist, he will provide it. No, what remains to be seen is whether Harbhajan will turn into the lifeless, risk-averse, boring bowler once the spotlight turns away and the pressure recedes. On the other hand, could a better, threatening R. Ashwin lead to a better, more hungry Harbhajan? Has what Harbhajan needed all these years is a little competition for his place in the team? Can our stage accomodate two leading roles?