The twelfth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) brought two heavyweights Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) facing each other at a packed MA Chidambaram stadium on 23rd March. To set the hearts racing, the opening match also pitted two of the biggest names in international cricket - MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli - against each other.
But, in a contest that had star players including the likes of Kohli, Dhoni and AB de Villiers, an unlikely candidate managed to steal the spotlight.
Harbhajan Singh stunned the RCB and left every cricket fan in awe with a brilliant bowling spell that ended with impressive figures of 3-20. The inclusion of Harbhajan, who took just seven wickets in 13 games last season, in the Chennai line-up had surprised cricket pundits and fans alike. But, the off-spinner repaid the faith of his captain and team management with a brilliant outing.
For someone who took his last T20 wicket against Rajasthan Royals (RR) on 11th May last year, Bhajji appeared to be a class of his own as he claimed the prized wickets of Kohli, De Villiers and Moeen Ali. Thanks to his bowling effort, Chennai managed to restrict RCB to a mere 70-run total - the sixth-lowest total in IPL history.
In reply, Chennai chased the paltry total with seven wickets and 14 deliveries to spare. Harbhajan was also adjudged the 'Man of the Match' for his pivotal bowling effort.
"This is a special award for me. It goes to my wife and family. You cannot ask for a better start. Since they have a lot of left-handers, Fleming came and told me I will be playing. It was nice to get a wicket up front and once you have it, your confidence level grows up. Imran bowled really well and it's always nice to get wickets of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. How often an off-spinner gets their wickets," Harbhajan said at the post-match press conference.