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Harbhajan Singh cautions Kuldeep Yadav: The journey is going to get tougher

India Today logo India Today 22-09-2017 Shobhit Kumar Mittal

© Bikas Das/Getty Images Harbhajan Singh knows all about taking hat-tricks, after all he has claimed arguably the most iconic hat-trick in the history of Indian cricket against a dominant Australian team at Eden Gardens in 2001. Speaking to India Today, Bhajji hailed India's new hat-trick hero Kuldeep Yadav, who crushed the Aussies with a hat-trick in the 2nd ODI at the same venue. Harbhajan also cautioned Kuldeep that the journey was not going to be "easy".

"My advice to Kuldeep is to work hard and enjoy his game because from here the journey is not going to be easy because everyone will now expect big performances from him and he is still young and he is still learning so all I want him to do is to enjoy his game and take one step at a time. This will put Kuldeep in people's minds that here is a bowler who has taken a hat-trick against Australia. So Kuldeep has made a reputation for himself, now he will have to live up to it," Harbhajan said exclusively to India Today.

Harbhajan also credited the 22-year-old Kuldeep for keeping his cool under pressure. Bhajji was nostalgic as he remembered the iconic day in 2001, when captain Sourav Ganguly walked up to him ahead of his hat-trick delivery.

"It is something that is really difficult to decide at that point of time (what you are going to bowl) as you have to keep yourself calm and composed with that kind of noise coming from the crowd you feel 'what should I do and what should I bowl'. When I was at my run-up before the hat-trick ball Dada (Sourav Ganguly) came up to me and asked me what I will bowl & I told him 'I do not know but I am thinking that I will bowl a fuller delivery to try and get him out lbw as he will probably try to play with the pad or feel for it as this is the first ball for him (Shane Warne was caught by Ramesh at short leg)," the Turbanator recalled.

Even Kuldeep in his post match chat revealed that he had sought the opinion of MS Dhoni before the final delivery.

"I asked Mahi bhai what to bowl and he told me 'tujhe jaisa lagta hai woh daal' (bowl the way you want to). I was very happy that he backed me," said the hat-trick man.

Kuldeep bagged arguably the perfect hat-trick with three different dismissals in three deliveries. Wade was bowled, Agar lbw and Cummins was caught behind by Dhoni.

Harbhajan decoded Kuldeep's spell for India Today, "There was a bit of luck involved in Kuldeep's first wicket but that gave him confidence. The second ball was a perfect delivery for a tall guy who was hardly looking to bend and was looking to play across the line. The third delivery was a great one as the ball pitched in line and went away from the batsman who did not read the ball. It was the perfect ball to get a hat-trick. When you are going to bowl the hat-trick delivery, you do not know what you are going to bowl because at that moment you are a bit caught up but I would like to credit Kuldeep for keeping his cool and he delivered the best ball he could have bowled at that time. It took the edge and it was a perfect catch by the master himself behind the wicket. Credit to MS as well for taking that catch. This is a proud moment for me, for Kuldeep and all Indian cricket fans." 

Having bagged the hat-trick against the Aussies in 2001, Harbhajan has taken his tally to 417 wickets in Tests (3rd highest for India) & 265 wickets in ODIs (5th highest for India). The 37-year-old says the hat-trick will also change Kuldeep as a bowler.

"It was a massive moment in my career and this changed me as a cricketer and a bowler as it gave me so much confidence (2001 Eden hat-trick). From this moment onwards I was a different bowler not for people but within myself I could feel that if I can do this against the best team and if I can do this once then I can do it again; not just taking a hat-trick but 5 wickets as I did in that innings (Bhajji claimed 7 wickets). This is a big moment and I would like Kuldeep Yadav to take his cricketing graph upwards because this is a moment that every cricketer needs, one big moment that takes your graph up and you want to keep it up there. I hope from here on he will win a lot of games for India," concluded Bhajji.

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