Team India Specials

Joginder Sharma Effect

Friday, June 19, 2021
© Cricket Nirvana

Indeed Team India played some forgettable cricket during the World Twenty20 tournament and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni took some decisions that didn’t pay off. But let’s not disown either the team or the captain. It’s the same Dhoni, who went to South Africa in 2007 with a bunch of youngsters and changed the world order in the micro-mini version of cricket. So, why disown them now in this hour of rare failure?

Dhoni has shown exemplary courage and risk-taking ability while leading the side. His captaincy skills were put to test during the 2007 Twenty 20 World Cup semi finals. When the Aussies needed just over 20 runs in the final over, Dhoni showed remarkable risk-taking ability and lobbed the ball to Joginder Sharma. With Michael Hussey and the dangerous Brad Haddin at the crease, it was a gamble which could have gone all wrong. In a T20 game, where anything is possible, you don’t give the ball to a bowler who is slow, inconsistent and inexperienced. But Dhoni did ask Sharma to bowl the final over and India won the match by 15 runs. Now, whether Dhoni’s move to use Sharma was because he didn’t have any other option or it was plain luck or even a stroke of genius is something we will never know. But it paid off beautifully.

Two days later, he successfully does Joginder Sharma on Pakistan in the finals. And the rest, as they say, is history. With Pakistan needing just 13 runs from the last over after having scored 41 runs in the 3 overs prior to that, Dhoni had the option of going to his experienced henchman Harbhajan Singh but he gave the ball to Sharma again.

The first ball went for a wide, the next was a dot ball but the third ball was a juicy full toss outside the off stump, which Misbah-ul-Haq dispatched for a clean home run. The match seemed to have slipped out of Dhoni’s hands with only 6 required from the next 4 balls, but as they say ‘it ain’t over till the Fat lady sings’. Misbah, who till that time had played the innings of his life, played the most inappropriate shot and was caught at fine leg. Match over and a wound that Javed Miandad had given millions of Indian hearts 22 years ago by his last-ball six off Chetan Sharma finally got healed. Then a relatively unknown Joginder Sharma from Haryana will always be remembered for his heroic last over, but it wouldn’t have been possible had Dhoni not shown immense faith in him. Perhaps, it was his captain’s faith in him which made Sharma rise to the occasion and how wonderfully he did.

This ability to show faith in his players is a skill Dhoni has consistently exhibited in his short tenure as captain. It has not only helped his players to gain confidence but also produced some stunning results in the past.

I would say Dhoni, ever since the World T20 title in South Africa, has been under the influence of the ‘Joginder Sharma Effect’. It is unfortunate that some of his tactical moves did not pay off in England. But the Ravindra Jadeja move had all the trappings of the Joginder Sharma Effect. Here was a relatively-unknown player, who plays his fearless brand of cricket and has no regard for reputation. So was Joginder Sharma back then. Jadeja could have pulled it off, as he had in the IPL-2 but it was not to be. Had Jadeja scored a quick 30, which he is quite capable of doing, the ‘Joginder Sharma Effect' would have come to fore again. And the match against South Africa would have been a different ball game altogether.

There is no doubt that Dhoni has played his role of a captain well. He also seems to have the slice of luck on his side which a captain needs. But he is bound to make mistakes for the best of the captains have had their share of questionable decisions. Dhoni has led the side with grit, confidence and determination that few Indian captains have in the past. Under his captaincy, the team has consistently performed well and the credit should go to his style of leadership.

Imagine the pressure of expectations of over a billion fans, endorsing over 20 brands, keeping stumps and also maintaining a batting average close to 50 in ODI’s, 37 in Test and 25 in T20. Have a heart for this man from the cricketing backwaters of Ranchi, who has withstood all this pressure all this while. He is bound to lose it once in a while for every captain worth his salt has. So, instead of being critical of a man, let us be a little easy on him. Here’s hoping that Dhoni regains his ‘Joginder Sharma Effect’.

(When Somprabh Singh, marketing manager (Titan), is not busy with the proceedings of the watch industry, he finds time to follow his passion — cricket — and even writes on the glorious game).