ICC T20 World Cup 2007
ICC T20 World Cup 2007
BCCI

13 years ago, on this day, India won the T20 World Cup under the captaincy of a young man named MS Dhoni, which heralded a new era for not just Indian but world cricket.

At that time, we didn’t know the giant upheavals that were coming our way.

The IPL might have been conceived before the World Cup triumph but it's hard to imagine it becoming that popular without that particular triumph.

Lalit Modi, man who brought FTV to India, kickstarted the proverbial Juvenal circus which would give a lot of bread to our domestic cricketers.

It heralded the most lucrative cricket league in the world, whose riches meant that the former white colonisers would now be dancing to the brown man’s tune.

The IPL has been maligned as a capitalist entity with its fealty to Mammon rather than the Marylebone Cricket Club but it has changed the lives of thousands of cricketers who would have been struggling with the idea of never turning up for India and playing in front of empty stadiums in domestic tournaments wondering what could’ve been.

And let's be frank, it's still a less harmful distraction than the inanities of Indian TV news which now broadly consists of reading out WhatsApp chats of private individuals to see who is smoking what.

None of that would’ve been feasible without the win by MS Dhoni and his squad.

Here’s a look at what the 11 winners who changed cricket’s destiny are doing now:

MS Dhoni

Where is he now?

In our hearts, Gambhir’s head and leading the CSK team in IPL 2020

Dhoni didn’t have the best final or even tournament, but the legend of MS was born with that win, the captain who could pull out a rabbit from his hat at any moment, who could take the most inane decisions that could split the flow of time during a match which seemed unfathomable to mere mortals bound by space-time constraints.

Like handing over the ball to Joginder Sharma, a non-descript bowler instead of more pedigreed options.

Giving the ball to Sharma, Dhoni said: “You have bowled so many overs in domestic cricket with so much dedication when no one is watching. Don't worry, cricket won't let you down now."

We had all known that Dhoni could hit it out of the park, the T20 win showed us that Dhoni could also captain a side unlike any of his predecessors.

In those moments we saw the wisdom beyond his years that showed his unique cricketing brain, a mix of chutzpah and trust, which mere mortals could never fathom.

Under Dhoni, India won everything the Indian cricket fan’s heart desired and reached the Number 1 spot in Test rankings.

He became a symbol of talent in a national of venal corruption – even as questions of his conflicts of interests were tucked away – the hero of a new India where one could forge one’s destiny with one’s merit and grit.

There was heartbreak when MS Dhoni finally retired from international cricket this year , but in that timeframe, he became the most influential Indian of his era, particularly with the six in the 2011 World Cup final that still irks Gautam Gambhir.

He is currently the captain of the Chennai Super Kings where some wonder if he can still hit out of the park at will and other wonders if he only wills to do so when the match is beyond saving.

Away from the field, the proud patriot is also a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Territorial Army and many believe politics will be his next calling. Given his immense popularity, one couldn’t rule it out.

Gautam Gambhir

Where is he now?

BJP MP from East Delhi, commentating in studios and enjoying jalebis

The man who played an important role in India’s both World Cup titles – 2007 and 2011 – still feels he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

Gambhir made 75 runs in the final helping India set up a winning total but somehow feels his star was outshone by Dhoni who got credit for both. In fact, he lashed out at cricket website for celebrating Dhoni’s six last year.

His perennial whinging recently earned him the moniker ‘Kangana Ranaut of cricket’.

It’s an unfair sobriquet for a player who has done so much for Indian cricket.

Gambhir had a fabulous career with India, scoring 97 in the 2011 World Cup final as well and is now a BJP MP from Delhi.

During his playing career, he showed he had it in him as a captain as well, leading Kolkata Knight Riders to two titles, a task made more difficult by the fact that he replaced the city’s prodigal son Sourav Ganguly.

Politics was a logical step for Gambhir who has worn his national credentials on his sleeves and is known for his stellar charitable work, whether it’s providing for the children of martyrs or speaking up for the rights of members of the transgender community.

He continues to be a cricket commentator known for playing with a straight bat, but his blade perhaps has a tad too much venom when MS Dhoni or Arvind Kejriwal are involved.

Yusuf Pathan

Where is he now? Playing domestic cricket for Baroda

Yusuf Pathan opened the innings with Gautam Gambhir in the 2007 final and in his time became known as a hard-hitter who was particularly suited for the smaller format. He had moments of glory with the ODI squad, but it was in the IPL where he really shone and was picked for $2.1 million by the KKR.

He was finally let go by Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 20 and finds himself without a squad.

He had also set up a cricket academy with his half-brother Irfan in Gujarat and currently turns up for the Baroda squad in domestic cricket.

Yuvraj Singh

Where is he now? Looking for the pandemic to end so he can play T20 overseas

One of India’s most storied cricketers, Yuvraj Singh became a national hero for beating cancer as well as his clean hitting and Punjabi swag.

The T20 World Cup also showed how explosive the southpaw was as he hit six sixes of Stuart Broad after a tiff with Andrew Flintoff.

Sadly, his former and consistency never extended to red-ball cricket.

But he remained a bonafide limited overs legend and shone in the 2011 World Cup as well and was the player of the series. He was in and out of the team post his battle with cancer and last played for Indian in 2017.

In the IPL, he remained hot property.

An icon player with KXIP in the first two season, going on to captain Pune Warriors and then Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevil (where he became the highest paid IPL player of his time).

However, he found himself without a team in the 2020 auction after being released by Mumbai Indians. Last heard, he was looking to play in foreign T20 leagues.

Rohit Sharma

Where is he now? Leading the Mumbai Indians squad in IPL 2020, getting trolled for his paunch and wondering if he can avoid taking the third run

The Mumbai lad played a useful cameo in the final but is now a proper Limited Overs legend for Indian cricket, one of the sweetest timers of the ball, which leaves even Virat Kohli in awe.

In the 2019 World Cup, he scored five centuries and will feel unlucky not to come away with more.

Sharma almost has a zen-like calm at the crease and a repertoire of shots that can make any bowler tremble.

He has also proved to be an astute leader for Mumbai Indians, leading them to four IPL titles and has become Mumbai cricket’s favourite son.

Sometimes mocked for not being as fit as his gluten-free contemporaries who rock hard abs, Sharma has scored three double centuries in ODI cricket and is the only cricketer – both genders - who features thrice in the top 10 highest ODI score list.

The curvature of his paunch doesn't take away the delightful arc of his sixes, leaving no one in doubt of his batting abilities.

In fact, there remains a school of thought which believes that Sharma could prove to be a better captain than Virat Kohli, at least in the Limited Overs format, should he be given a chance.

Robin Uthappa

Where is he now? Playing for Rajasthan Royals

Known for his arc of shots, Robin Uthappa might have been on the fringes of the national squad but was very much hot property in the Indian Premier League.

He was a dominant force in the KKR’s 2014 triumph, taking home the Orange Cap in the year where orange was definitely the national flavour.

He has also had a decent domestic career with Karnataka, Saurashtra and now Kerala but a comeback in the Indian team looks unlikely.

Irfan Pathan

Where is he now? Setting up a cricket academy in J&K while commentating

The Player of the Match of the 2007 final announced his retirement from all forms of cricket in 2019, but there was a time when he was considered as the natural successor to Kapil Dev, not just for swinging the ball wickedly but his ability with the bat.

Critics on the other hand would argue that thrusting a bat into Irfan’s hand prevented him from becoming the mean reverse swinging pace bowler who could’ve once a generation.

A master of the mysterious art of reverse swing, he was as sensation when he burst on to the scene at 19.

Yet there's always the idea of what could've been as Pathan only managed 29 tests, 120 ODIs and 24 T20Is.

His downfall coincided with the ill-fated Chappell reign of Indian cricket who felt it wise to make Irfan open the innings.

He played for several IPL teams but was an integral part of the KKR team from 2011-17 and played a role in their triumphs in 2012 and 2014.

A dashing face also made him a favourite with advertisers and Irfan was also seen in Jhalak Dhiklaa Ja and will be seen in a Kollywood movie.

Interestingly, he was also looking to play in the Lankan Premier League so perhaps we've not seen the last of him on the field.

Harbhajan Singh

Where is he now? Taking time off from IPL for personal reasons

Harbhajan Singh might be taking a break right now but the fiery Punjabi remains an integral component of the IPL.

Rising to national attention in 2001 where he took 32 wickets against Steve Waugh’s mighty Aussies including a hat-trick in India’s most memorable Test win of all time, he was also a crucial part of the Mumbai Indians’ IPL squad winning the IPL thrice. The second highest wicket-taker after the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, he swapped yellow for blue in 2018.

He was also at the centre of the furore over his linguistic skills when Andrew Symonds alleged that called him a monkey while Harbhajan denies, claiming that he was just bestowing sobriquets upon the latter’s mother and said ‘teri maa ki’.

In the IPL, he also showed a propensity to bring his aggressiveness to the field, whether it was with the bat, or occasionally with the hand as S Sreesanth learnt the hard way.

Age hasn’t harshened his mellow and Bhajji remains a vocal critic, even haranguing WHO’s chief Dr. Tedros for his role in the coronavirus pandemic.

S Sreesanth

Where is he now? Making movies, bodybuilding and promising to beat Shashi Tharoor

Jarrod Kimber, the master of cricketing analogies had once famously described Sreesanth – unlike the pastor-like Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid – as the ‘next-door neighbour crashing a party, topless, singing Creedence Clearwater Revival songs as he emptied the drinks cabinet’.

The man who took that final catch was also at the centre of controversies that highlighted the vacillating vagaries of life.

Once hailed for dancing after hitting Andre Nel for a six, he was also engulfed in match-fixing, which saw him spend time in jail, where he said he was tortured and felt like a terrorist.

The first Kerala Ranji player to play T20 for India, Sreesanth morphed into a bodybuilder who'd make Harbhajan think twice before getting handsy.

His lifetime ban by BCCI was also overturned and the belief remained that he had been punished for other people’s wrongdoings.

Since then he has dabbled in TV shows, bodybuilding, movies and politics.

He had joined the BJP as well, and promised to beat Shashi Tharoor from Thiruvananthapuram in 2024, a hard-task where the Farrago Sir has won thrice in a row.

Sreesanth remains an enigma even now, coming 2nd in Bigg Boss 12. He even claimed that the reality show had to edit out his fun parts, which given Sreesanth’s past instances wouldn’t be an exaggeration.

RP Singh

Where is he now? Running a cricket academy in Greater Noida and part of BCCI’s CAC

Tumse celebrity vibes nahi ati (You don’t have celebrity vibes).

That’s how Rudra Pratap Singh’s mates described the quiet bowler from Rae Bareli who now runs a cricket academy in Greater Noida and was last seen explaining the intricacies of swing bowling as a Hindi commentator on Star Sports. He was also appointed as a member of BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee in February 2020.

In his playing days, RP Singh for his swing but his career was plagued with inconsistencies and he only managed 14 tests, 58 ODIs and 10 T20Is. Among them was a key role in India's triumphant 2007 series victory in England.

He cut short a Miami holiday to make a comeback to the Test squad in 2011 but the ship had sailed as his embarrassing return made everyone including the selectors look silly.

Joginder Sharma

Where is he now? A DGP with Haryana Police battling COVID-19 like a boss

Finally, the man who was handed the ball to change India’s destiny in T20 cricket is now a DSP with Haryana Police where he has been part of the state’s war on COVID-19.

He did play IPL for four years, with MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings.

Now, far from the dazzle and glitter of his starrier counterparts, he spends all day on duty, carefully avoiding going back to meet his family because he doesn’t want to infect them.

His day usually begins at 6 AM and ends at 8 PM, where instead of bowling to international batsmen, he guards various check-posts in the rural belt of Hisar, instructing truck and bus drivers about the perils of social distancing.

He might have only played four ODIs and four T20Is for India but his 2007 World T20 final over which included Misbah-ul-Haq’s wicket will forever be etched in every Indian cricket fan’s memory.

As long there exists a species which recognises the innate beauty of the sound of leather hitting willow, they will remember Joginder Sharma.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal

www.freepressjournal.in