New Delhi: Two-time World Cup winner Harbhajan Singh is undoubtedly one of the most lethal spinners in the history of international cricket. The former senior off-spinner was a ‘captain’s delight’ as his wicket-taking ability helped team India win many matches.

Harbhajan, during his illustrious 23-year career in international cricket, faced many challenges, overcame several setbacks to rise every time but as any famous cricketer, he too had his fair share of controversies on the cricketing field.

The ex-Indian spinner was involved in a huge controversy during India’s tour of Australia 2007-08, popularly known as the ‘MonkeyGate’ controversy. The infamous incident had taken place during the Ind vs Aus 2nd Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground, January 2008.

The incident involved Harbhajan and Aussie all-rounder Andrew Symonds.

Harbhajan has now opened up on the controversy and talked about how it affected him then. The 41-year-old said that he was being blamed for something he hadn’t done and no one cared to look into the racial discrimination he was subjected at that time.

“Obviously I was disturbed, I couldn’t understand why it was happening. Why was there so much of… for something that hadn’t happened. They had six or seven witnesses for something that I had not spoken to. No one had heard it and yet it was blown out of proportion,” Harbhajan Singh while speaking to sports journalist Boria Majumdar on Backstage with Boria.

“The things that were said to me on the ground, ‘you have testicles on your head’, to hear such an insult towards my religion was the most difficult thing for me. I didn’t open my mouth then because if I did so, it would have resulted in more controversies,” he added.

Harbhajan also added that his teammates provided him great support.

“Only I knew how I used to spend time in my room during that difficult phase. I never thought of having a word with the players or the management because they were anyways with me. In the whole incident, they were backing me but since my stress level had already reached beyond a certain level I did not want to stress anyone else. So, I had to deal with whatever way I could and I am glad that I could and I could go out there and play and win a few games for Team India in Australia”, he revealed.

The Aussies had complained to the umpires that Harbhajan had called Andrew Symonds ‘Monkey’. After the game got over, there was an enquiry after completion of which a three-match ban was imposed on the Indian spinner as per ICC’s Code of Conduct. However, after team India decided to call off the tour, the decision was overturned but still Harbhajan was fined 50% of his match fee.


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