Harbhajan Singh ) ( ਹਰਭਜਨ ਸਿੰਘ, born: 3 July 1980 in Jalandhar, Punjab, India) is an Indian cricketer. A specialist bowler, he has the second-highest number of Test wickets by an off spinner behind Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan.
Harbhajan made his Test and One Day International (ODI) debuts in early 1998. His career was initially beset by investigations into the legality of his bowling action and disciplinary incidents that raised the ire of cricket authorities. However in 2001, with leading leg spinner Anil Kumble injured, Harbhajan's career was resuscitated after Indian captain Sourav Ganguly called for his inclusion in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy team. In that series victory over Australia, Harbhajan established himself as the team's leading spinner by taking 32 wickets, becoming the first Indian bowler to take a hat trick in Test cricket.
A finger injury in mid 2003 sidelined him for much of the following year, allowing Kumble to regain his position as the first choice spinner. Harbhajan reclaimed a regular position in the team upon his return in late 2004, but often found himself watching from the sidelines in Test matches outside the Indian subcontinent with typically only one spinner, Kumble, being used. Throughout 2006 and into early 2007, Harbhajan's accumulation of wickets fell and his bowling average increased, and he was increasingly criticised for bowling defensively with less loop. Following India's first-round elimination from the 2007 Cricket World Cup, Harbhajan was replaced by other spinners in the national squad for both formats. He regained a regular position in the team in late 2007, but became the subject of more controversy. In early 2008, he was given a ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for racially vilifying Andrew Symonds. The ban was revoked upon appeal, but in April, Harbhajan was banned from the 2008 Indian Premier League and suspended from the ODI team by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for slapping Sreesanth after a match.
He was conferred the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour, in 2009.
Harbhajan was born into a lower middle class Punjabi family. He is the only son of Sardar Sardev Singh, a businessman who owned a ball bearing and valve factory. Growing up with five sisters, Harbhajan was in line to inherit the family business, but his father insisted that he concentrate on his cricket career and represent India.
Harbhajan was trained as a batsman by his first coach Charanjit Singh Bhullar, but converted to spin bowling after his coach's untimely death saw him turn to the tutelage of Davinder Arora. Arora credits Harbhajan's success to a work ethic that included a three hour training session in the morning, followed by an afternoon session lasting from 3 pm until after sunset.
Following the death of his father in 2000, Harbhajan became the family head, and as of 2001, had organised marriages for three of his sisters. In 2002, he ruled out his own marriage until at least 2008. In 2005, he again fended off marriage rumours linking him to a Bangalore based bride, stating that he would only make a decision "after a couple of years", and that he would be seeking a Punjabi bride selected by his family.