Cricket is a very fickle game and everything is based on statistics and hard data. Sachin Tendulkar broke every record and played the game at the highest level for 24 years to achieve that. There are many players who have played the game for decades and can’t win any silverware and there are players who become world champions by playing very little and that is the beauty of this wonderful game. Once upon a time, there was a player called Joginder Sharma. Many people from this generation must be asking Joginder, who? and they are right because this particular player played cricket for a very short period of time and then disappeared altogether.
Indian cricket at the turn of the century was at the crossroads and after the match-fixing scandal, the integrity of the game was in question and the common man was feeling cheated due to the action of some greedy and corrupt players. BCCI to bring cricket to the center stage made Sourav Ganguly captain and during the mid-2000s players from small towns and villages became part of the Indian team and Joginder Sharma was one such player. Sharma was a player who relied on hard work and determination and came from Haryana, the same land that gave World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev Nikhanj and that’s where the comparison ends. Sharma played his trade as an all-rounder but in all honesty was a bits and pieces player and came to the reckoning through the grind of domestic cricket and performing well for his state side to get selected for India and was a perfect case of making most out of your limited talent.
Indian cricket after the 2007 World Cup reached a nadir when they were eliminated in the group stages by virtue of losing to Bangladesh and the whole nation was in mourning and people lost trust in cricket for a while. The next big event was the ICC World T20 which was to be played in South Africa and India almost didn’t even send their team. The holy trinity of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and Sourav Ganguly pulled out of the tournament and certain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was named the captain. India defied the odds and to cut the long story short reached finals against arch-rivals Pakistan at the Wanderers, Johannesburg.
Trip Down Memory Lane: Joginder Sharma’s memorable final over vs Pakistan, 2007
Fast forward and the match went down to the wire and Joginder Sharma was given the ball ahead of experienced Harbhajan Singh to defend 13 runs in the last over against well set Misbah-ul-Haq and Sharma lost the plot and his nerves took over and the decision of Dhoni was proving fatal and then out of the blue Misbah had a brain fade and tried to play a scoop and lost his wicket and Sharma won India the world title and became part of a folklore.
Under normal circumstances, you would think that after winning the world cup your career might take off but unfortunately for the Haryana all-rounder, this victory became a bane and rather bizarrely became his last game in the blue jersey. Sharma was never told why he didn’t play for India and new players jumped ahead of him and Sharma will be more known in general knowledge and trivia questions. The Haryana lad only played four one day and four T20 matches for India and could never achieve his potential. Sharma is still toiling away in domestic cricket in front of empty chairs and a man with a dog and deep inside must be feeling the pain of rejection and hurt.
Life is not fair, but many Indian greats have not won a world title and that illustrious list includes Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Joginder Sharma can tell his grandchildren that he was part of the team that won WorldT20 title and nobody can take that away from him and despite playing so little for India Joginder Sharma was the man who bowled that particular over and ironically that became the lasting image of his unfulfilled career.