We achieved what other Indian teams failed to do: Harbhajan

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New Delhi, Mar 11 (UNI) Back home after a controversial tour Down Under, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said he felt proud to return as a winner, something which previous Indian teams have failed to do.

''I feel proud that we have come back as winners. We have managed to do something that teams which went to Australia before us could not do. Especially if you consider that we had a young team,'' Harbhajan told NDTV.

He stated that the Australian tour was ''really tough'' but was happy that he managed to give a befitting reply to all the controversies through his performances on the field and thanked the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Indian public for their support.

''The last three months were really tough for me but I chose to answer with my bat and not through statements,'' Harbhajan said.

''Hats off to BCCI and the Indian public for standing by me during those tough times.'' Harbhajan remarked that despite all the bad blood on and off the field, deep down he believes that the Australians love him for his fighting spirit.

''I firmly believe that deep down inside Australians love me - they always like a fighter,'' he said. ''I read somewhere that Hayden challenged Ishant to a boxing bout. But, from what I saw on the cricket field Ishant beat Hayden in that boxing match.'' Stating that he will not shy away from a confrontation if anybody tried to intimidate him, Harbhajan said, ''No way, you can't match the Australians as far strength is concerned. But yes, if he (Hayden) managed two punches on me I would also land at least one punch on him.'' The 27-year-old from Jallandhar, however, denied that players like Ponting and Hayden are over the hill.

''I don't think we can say that. They are a great team that is why it made our victory special - beating the world champs in their own backyard,'' he said.

He was excited about playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) and was confident of its success.

''IPL will be a huge success. I am looking forward to playing against my own team mates from the national team. Thanks to the IPL I will be able to afford my favourite car- Hummer.'' Expressing his disappointment at the Indian hockey team's failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics Harbahajan said they should not lose heart and try to do well in future tournaments.

''I feel sad to see hockey in this state, but, this is not the end of the world. Even we lost in the first round of the cricket world cup but then came back to win 20-20 and in Australia.'' UNI AB RAR BD2046

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