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The Indian preparations for the ICC T-20 World Cup got a shot in the arm after veteran T-20 specialist bowler and member of the 2007 T-20 World Cup winning squad, Joginder Sharma, visited the nets to give the boys, especially the bowlers, a much needed pep talk.
Recounting his match winning effort in the 2007 World Cup finals, Sharma said it comes down to mental strength rather than skill or guile. “To excel at this level, a bowler doesn’t need to rely on fancy yorkers or bouncers, even rank full tosses and long-hops can yield rewards, provided one is patient and willing to mix it up,” advised Jogi, as Irfan Pathan and Balaji, still licking their wounds from the mauling at the hands of arch-rivals Pakistan in yesterday’s warm-up game, assiduously took notes.
The strictly military medium pacer rubbished the notion that the T-20 format is fast-paced and doesn’t allow a bowler to experiment. “On the contrary, it’s about being patient and playing mind games. In the 2007 finals, the skipper told me: ‘Jogi, we are in a position from where only extremely pedestrian bowling can make us lose. I just want you to bowl your four overs and dismiss that scary Misbah dude if possible cos he can later turn out to be a real pain in the a***.’ So I baited my quarry with patience, feeding him half volleys, full tosses and rank long hops to lull him into complacency. And after he had carted me all over the park, I unleashed my secret weapon – the long hop going drifting down the leg-side. Finally, the dude lost his mind and played that asinine scoop to be snapped up by Sreesanth at deep fine leg, thus instantly popularizing T-20 cricket in India and giving rise to IPL.”
Former Pakistani skipper Misbah- ul-Haq also lavished praise on the veteran bowler, saying, “I still get nightmares of that dismissal, man. Since then, I have a mental block against Indian bowlers and prefer to defend and lose rather than hit out and lose.”
Later, skipper Dhoni paid an emotional tribute to the pacer from Haryana, saying he did for Indian T-20 cricket what Kapil paaji did for Indian ODIs by winning the ’83 ODI Word Cup.
“It was Jogi who taught me that it is not just about winning but winning in style with nail-biting last ball finishes. When the side is comfortably placed and it is very difficult to lose from there, Jogi is the guy to turn to for stretching it to the end. In yesterday’s match, with 22 required of 12 balls, I was confident of another fairy tale last ball finish but Pathan finished it with the first ball of the last over.Chae, wish they would make more blokes like Jogi. I miss him,” said Dhoni before tearfully embracing his former team-mate.