New Delhi: Fed up with Darren Lehmann's constant sledging during a tour of Australia, Harbhajan Singh once asked the current Australian head coach whether he was "pregnant" or not while pointing to his "huge stomach", the veteran off-spinner has recalled.
Harbhajan said he gave back to the Australians, including Lehman and legendary fast bowler Glenn McGrath, with whom he had frequent spats.
"Australians felt they were the biggest superstars, nobody can beat them, they always looked to dominate. But we were from a generation which was never docile. I come from Punjab and Punjabis by nature always speak their minds," Harbhajan said.
"I was batting and (Darren) Lehmann was continuously sledging me. He had a huge stomach and his slack string used to hang out like Shakti Kapoor's. I was so much perturbed over his sledging that I pointed towards his abdomen and asked: 'Are you pregnant?' Lehmann told this to Shane Warne who burst out laughing. Warne asked me whether I said this...' Well, players shouldn't have such huge stomachs," Harbhajan was quoted as saying in 'Aap ki Adalat' programme to be aired soon.
"(Glenn) McGrath sledged me a lot. He felt who's this guy playing after I have dismissed top batsmen. I replied back. He used to sledge once, I replied thrice, he sledged twice, I replied five times. A time came when the Australians stopped sledging me," said the out-of-favour off-spinner who has played in 103 Tests since making his debut in 1998.
On the infamous spat with Andrew Symonds, Harbhajan said: "I didn't say monkey. It was their allegation. I only told him - 'teri maa ki...haath ki roti khaane ko bada dil kar raha hai'. He did not listen at all. Anyway, he did not know Hindi, and I don't know English."
Harbhajan said former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar was another player with whom he often had spat with though they were friends off the field.
"Shoaib abused me a lot. He used to sit with us, ate with us. Since he was too close to us, maybe he used to take us for granted. He challenged me once to hit a six and when I hit a six, he was shocked. He then bowled two consecutive bouncers which I evaded. He then abused me and I replied back. But after the game, we sat together as if nothing happened.
"Shoaib once threatened me he would come to my room and beat me. I told him come, let's see who beats whom. I was really scared. He is a great hulk. He once bashed me and Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) inside a room. Since he was heavy, it was difficult to catch him," Harbhajan said.