But all that seems water under the bridge as the two champions sat down for an Instagram live chat on Ashwin’s ReminiscewithAsh show on Monday evening.
With the two players in a relaxed mood, the conversation ranged from Harbhajan’s feats and exploits during the 2000-01 Australia’s tour of India to teaching each other Punjabi and Tamil and threw up plenty of anecdotes.
There was one such occasion that Ashwin reveals when Harbhajan left a deep impression on him about the spirit of sportsmanship. After dropping Matthew Hayden‘s catch off Sairaj Bahutule‘s bowling, Harbhajan was thankful when Bahutule took Colin Miller catch off his bowling in the third Test match at Chepauk here during the 2000-01 series.
“I have never missed a Test at Chepauk… I have might have played in them or watched it from the stands. So I was there during that Test. I saw you going to Bahutule and apologising for dropping Hayden earlier. My father pointed out the sportsman’s spirit between the two players. He told me about how the players get along with the game and focus on the next ball. So it left a deep impact on me,” Ashwin recalled the incident.
The memories of that Test also came flooding back for Bhajji. “I was feeling disappointed because Hayden went on to score a double ton. And Bahutule couldn’t take many wickets despite bowling well. But he told me to let go of it and said these things happen. He was actually my room partner during that Test but he never mentioned about the incident even after we returned to our room,” Harbhajan said.
Harbhajan said that Ashwin is the best off-spinner in the world right now. “A lot of people would say that there is a lot of jealousy between us. But I would want to call out to those detractors and say there is nothing like that. Ashwin is the best offie in the world right now. I also rate Nathan Lyon highly.
“The Aussie (offie) is also up there because he has done extremely well for himself given the fact that he comes from Australia where the pitches hardly aid spinners. But Ashwin is a legend in the making. Going forward, I only want him to stay fit because he is capable of taking a lot more wickets and could finish among the highest wicket-takers in the world,” Harbhajan signed off.