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Thursday, March 26, 2020

man who fashioned famous Indian win ~ now fights Covid on the streets of Haryana

India at home – our Prime Minister has requested us to remain at home for 21 days in our fight against the dreaded Corona.  We are expected to simply follow and be at home ~ yet, some fools go around, forget the need for ‘social distancing’ – they are exposing themselves as also other citizens to Covid-19 threat.  A video showing a Police Office pleading to fall at the feet of people requesting them not to venture out went viral – there are some where police punishes those straying – punishments perhaps work better.

The job of law enforcing agencies and that of Medical fraternity is the toughest now – as they brave the virus and fight to save the Nation.  A top  Haryanvi Police Officer   has posted some photos on Twitter, in which he is seen doing service on roads.  He  has also advised everyone by posting a photo and has written in the caption that ' defending oneself can save us from coronavirus, fight together and help us by staying at home' – can you identify this famous personality ? – here is another photo of the same person with folded hands standing in front of holy Kedarnath.

That picture froze in the minds of Indian cricket lovers ~ an Indian win in the World Cup –  that too the inaugural one ~ 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.

Not many of us would have followed that match at Chinnaswamy stadium on 29th Sept 2004 between India A and Indian Seniors – the Cricinfo caption read “India A take charge despite Ganguly's efforts”.  The score card read : India A 302 and 47 for 1 (Jadhav 27*) lead India Seniors 213 (Ganguly 65, Joginder 3-42, Bhandari 3-56) by 136 runs.  If you read it even now, you may not observe that  unheralded Joginder Sharma, playing as a substitute for Ashish Nehra, who went over on his left ankle again, embarrassed the cream of India's batting talent as India A took charge of the warm-up game against India Seniors. With Amit Bhandari, who removed both the openers, and Murali Kartik providing sterling support, the Seniors were bowled out for just 213 in reply to India A's 302.

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 proved too ambitious ; the Wanderers erupted in deafening ecstasy.

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  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 was 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.

The man in uniform at the start is, none other than ‘Joginder Sharma’. a Deputy Commissioner with Haryana Police.  The man who bowled India to victory is now fighting fit in khaki uniform, fighting the Corona virus on the streets. 

Salute the indomitable spirit of Joginder ji.  Hats Off to you Sir

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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