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Harbhajan Singh announces retirement from all forms of cricket: 'All good things come to an end'

NEW DELHI: Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh, the first Indian bowler to claim a Test hat-trick, has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. He bows out as the country's fourth-highest wicket-taker (417) behind Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and R Ashwin.

"All good things come to an end and today as I bid adieu to the game that has given me everything in life, I would like to thank everyone who made this 23-year-long journey beautiful and memorable," Harbhajan tweeted.

Harbhajan, 40, ends his career having played 103 Tests, 236 ODIs and 28 T20Is for India. He made his debut for the side in 1998 in an ODI against Australia, and was the part of India's victorious WT20 squad in 2007 as well as the side which lifted the 2011 World Cup in India. Harbhajan picked up seven wickets in the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup as he led the spin-bowling attack, and was India's prime spin-bowling option in the 2011 ODI WC as well, where India defeated Sri Lanka in the final to lift the trophy.

"My journey from the streets of Jalandhar to become the Turnabator for Team India has been a beautiful one.

There is no bigger motivation for me in life than stepping out on the field while wearing the India jersey. However, there comes a time in life where we have to take a tough decision and you have to move forward in life. I was waiting for the last few years to make this announcement public - I am retiring from all forms of cricket," Harbhajan said on his official YouTube channel.

The veteran off-spinner last represented India in 2016 in a T20I, but continued to play in the Indian Premier League till earlier this year, when he was the part of the Kolkata Knight Riders squad. In a stellar IPL career, Harbhajan represented three sides - Mumbai Indians (2008-2017), Chennai Super Kings (2018-2019) and Kolkata Knight Riders (2021), lifting the title on four occasions - thrice with MI and once with CSK.

"In many ways, I had already retired as a cricketer, but hadn't been able to make a formal announcement. I haven't been an active cricketer for a while. But I had a commitment to Kolkata Knight Riders, and wanted to spend the (2021) IPL season with them. But during the season itself, I had made up my mind to retire," Harbhajan added.

In the 2000s, Harbhajan went on to become the country's top spinner along with the great Kumble. Harbhajan's coming-of-age series was the 2001 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, where he grabbed a hat-trick in the famous Eden Gardens Test in Kolkata. He dismissed Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne off successive deliveries as India completed arguably their most famous Test wins of all time.

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