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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hail the spirit of comeback man ~ Joginder and his travails


That picture froze in the minds of Indian cricket lovers ~ an Indian win in the World Cup – the inaugural World Cup ~ and the man in the frame, little known ……….  .. ..  For some life is always difficult ~ one falls quite often but still contrive to stand up tall !  Quite often, we think that some achieve greatness easily and for some greatness is thrust upon.  Tinseldom is one place, where we assume that people rise to the top so easily and sports, especially Cricket is another.  India cricketers go through a grind ~ they play at University level, play league cricket; rise to play for the top teams in 1st Div league; represent their State and Zone and eventually would get to play for the Nation.

Certainly not easy ~ though we hear some rise meteorically – beating their components and getting Indian jersey.  May be a good opener, middle order, good fielder, good wicket keeper, spinner, pacer, swing bowler, all-rounder – you are spotted by a IPL franchisee, play a couple of matches, swing around swivel to the top, earn a lot of money in the process ~ luckier enough if you get an opportunity of an Indian cap ~ perform well in a match, rise to starhood, become a permanent fixture in the squad !! – Sounds so sweet and so easy. 

At New Wanderers way back on 24th Sept 2007, that one delivery remains frozen in the memories of all cricket lovers – Misbah bends to play that fatal scoop; ball going high on the air, landing in the hands of Sreesanth ~ the bowler was Joginder Sharma……………. Later played for Chennai Super Kings too…….  Surprised to see that the bowler who bowled that last over in the nail-baiting traumatic finals did not play a single T20 after that !!!! ~ that is not all – you have more surprises when you read to follow the Haryanvi all-rounder’s career.  He has played 4 One dayers and 4 T20s for the Nation.  His last match was epochal – the finals of inaugural T20 World Cup; India won by 5 runs.  India scored 157 ; there was Rudra Pratap Singh, S Sreesanth, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan.  

That scoop of Misbah-ul-Haq is history now. Pakistan started the final over needing a manageable 13, though with their last pair at the crease. Dhoni surprised everybody by asking Joginder to bowl that last over.   That became 12 from six after Joginder Sharma bowled the widest of wides, then 12 from five after Misbah played and missed. He played and hit next time, launching Sharma's nervy full toss down the ground. Six from four; one stroke would do it.  Joginder was only of modest pace but  Misbah's shot Hproved too ambitious ; the Wanderers erupted in deafening ecstasy. undreds of Indian tricolours waved in late-afternoon sun as the victory lap began. Misbah was dangerous and the normal tendency would have been to go to Harbhajan – Dhoni opted for Joginder – before you appreciate read further.

A few days earlier, in the Group match against India on 19th Sept 2007 – best remembered for that Yuvraj blasting Stuard Broad for 6 sixers in the 19th over, Joginder made his debut and was hit all over the park milking 57 off his 4 overs @ 14.25. Thus, more matches after that performance was boon and that chance to bowl the most tense last over was dream for Joginder – he did well there – but never got another opportunity.  In between he also bowled the final over in India's closely fought semifinal victory over Australia in the tournament with 22 runs required, taking two wickets as India won by 15 runs.

Back home, he was rewarded with a IPL cap, that too for Chennai Super Kings ~ but could not get enough opportunities in the starpacked side.  Eventually, he found himself alongside, George Bailey; Doug Bollinger; Suraj Randiv; Scott Styris; Yo Mahesh; Abhinav Mukund; Sudeep Tyagi; K. Vasudevadas and Ganapathi Vignesh ~ the unfortunate ones to be released by the Franchisee, left out of the squad.

Life was tough for this mentally tough Haryanvi.  In Nov 2011, Joginder was seriously injured when his car rammed into a BPO vehicle in Dwarka in south-west Delhi.  Joginder was reportedly driving, suffered head injuries and was taken to a private hospital in the area. He was later shifted to another hospital in Pashim Vihar where he underwent a surgery. "I had a major head injury, fracture and clotting, was in the ICU, needed head surgery and about 40-45 stitches," recounts the Haryana allrounder Joginder Sharma, talking about his car accident last November which nearly ended his cricketing career.

A year on, he has returned to the Ranji circuit, signing autographs as a knot of kids surround him before the day's play in the cricketing outback of Hubli. It has been a difficult journey back to the field for the man who has been the cornerstone of Haryana's Ranji side for several seasons.  Doctors had remarked at that time ‘Kuch bhi ho sakta hain (anything can happen).’ But Joginder was man possessed, determined to play again.  He attributes a lot to  physio Amit Tyagi who has helped him recuperate.  Perhaps more than the stress of the final over, the mental trauma of getting back was a bigger challenge ~  breaking down the psychological barrier was the most important thing. Joginder has had plenty of injury problems in the past couple of years, even before the accident: an ankle problem that needed surgery and a neck injury as well, and there was more trouble on the comeback trail.

Earlier this month, Joginder sprung back playing for Haryana against Uttar Pradesh.   He batted well and proved his fitness levels by bowing 30 overs  in the second innings against UP. It may be too difficult for him to earn back another cap for India, he may never bowl another final over in an International – but one must appreciate and salute the spirit of the strong willed – Joginder.

Joginder ~ Wishing you good health and a comeback to the National Team’

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Dec 2012.
With inputs taken from cricinfo.com.

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