Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s choice of Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over of the 2007 ICC World T20 final against Pakistan was not driven by impulse. It was well calculated. Dhoni threw a glance at Joginder even though the experienced Harbhajan Singh had an over left.
“I was prepared for it,” revealed Joginder as he recalled that glorious moment at New Wanderers Stadium.
Pakistan needed 13 runs from the last over with Misbah-ul-Haq on strike. Joginder began with a wide, bowled a dot ball and then conceded a six. It was a difficult situation for Joginder. As Pakistan needed six from four balls, Dhoni must have wondered if he had made the wrong move by asking Joginder to bowl at the death.
Joginder, however, was not perturbed. He had bowled a full toss and it deserved a six. The bowler knew it. So did the batsman. Only Misbah did not know that Joginder was a last-over specialist. One had seen him at a small ground in a local tournament in Delhi denying the opposition a win. The target was two to win. In another local tournament, Dhoni had tossed the ball to Joginder with the opposition needing four to win. Joginder gave away just two. But this was not a local tournament.
“I had bowled the last over in the semifinal too (against Australia) but this challenge was different. It was huge. I knew Misbah had a wide range of shots. I just backed myself. I had ten others on the field who had belief in me,” recalled Joginder.
Misbah stood calmly. He had made up his mind. And Joginder, his heart beat normal, had read it. “I was not going to bowl to contain him. I had to get him out. He was ready to play the scoop and I read him just in time.” Joginder changed his stride, advanced his jump and cut down on the pace.
“Misbah was committed and he fell into the trap. It was a big relief really,” Joginder remembered. The scenes of celebrations are vivid in his memory. “I can never forget those moments. Honestly, no one expected to win but Dhoni kept saying we just had to give 100 per cent effort. The intensity of our effort was unbelievable. Everything fell in place.”
Cricket is all about how you “think” and how you “plan.” Joginder was asleep at the airport when Yuvraj Singh shook him. “How are you feeling,” Yuvraj teased him. “Let me sleep,” was all Joginder could mumble. Only after landing at Mumbai did the team realise the enormity and significance of the victory. And then he was lost to Indian cricket. The T20 final remains his last match for India.
The win changed his life. “I came to be recognised in streets.” The bike gave way to a Santro. His assets include Fortuner and Cruiser and is accompanied by a gunman for security. He survived a horrific car accident last year and is working on a comeback, chasing his cricket dreams and criminals; he has apprehended a few murderers too. Joginder is now a DSP with Haryana Police. At heart, he is a cricketer.