DSP Joginder Sharma on the frontline of the coronavirus fight

If the World T20 success gave Joginder Sharma the status of a sporting hero, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made him a front-line warrior against the virus.

DSP Joginder Sharma (second to right) issuing instructions to his subordinates during a routine patrol in Hissar.   -  Special Arrangement

It was the inaugural World T20 final between India and Pakistan in 2007. Misbah-ul-Haq had just clubbed Harbhajan Singh for three sixes. Pakistan required 13 runs from the final over with one wicket in hand.

After a lot of deliberation, skipper M. S. Dhoni took a gamble: He handed the ball to Joginder Sharma.

Sharma started with a wide. Then, Misbah got underneath a full toss and muscled a massive six before missing the next ball, which was pitched well outside off stump. On the next delivery, the Wanderers crowd exploded as S. Sreesanth, at short fine leg, comfortably held on to a looping Misbah paddle shot as India won.

If the World T20 success gave Joginder Sharma the status of a sporting hero, the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has made the World Cup winner a front-line warrior in the battle against the pandemic.

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Joginder Sharma celebrates with his team-mates after taking a wicket during the semifinal in Durban.   -  AFP

 

“In life, there are some unforgettable moments, and winning the T20 World Cup was one of the best moments and I still remember it. You all saw me as a cricketer, but now I am in a different role. However, the common thing is I am still serving my country,” Sharma, who is now a deputy superintendent of police, told Sportstar from Hissar district in Haryana.

“It’s a huge challenge and I have a lot of responsibility. I go out on patrols both during day and night and our aim is to spread awareness among people and tell them not to venture out. It’s a deadly virus and we are putting all our efforts to save lives,” he added.

It’s a risky situation, given the fact that the police are exposed day in and day out while carrying out their duties. “It’s our job to protect people, but at the same time we need to protect ourselves. It’s important to educate people and tell them the risks of venturing out at this moment. I keep reminding people that this war can be won only by staying indoors,” Sharma said.

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Sharma has been in pressure situations before on the cricket field and has delivered the goods when it mattered the most. And he said his cricketing lessons are helping him deal with the pandemic.

“During the 2007 World T20, all of us knew what our roles were exactly. And we had our captain M. S. Dhoni who knew how to get the best from the players. Presently, from the superintendent of police to the director-general of police, everyone is involved and we get necessary instructions from them on how to deal with the situation,” he said.

“Every day the situation is becoming more challenging, but at the same time, we are well-equipped to deal with it. It comes to how to respond to an emergency and it is similar to how to bowl in pressure situations,” Sharma added.

After the T20 World Cup win, Sharma became a household name across India, and in Haryana in particular. And the popularity has only increased since then.

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When asked how he reacts to people who approach him for a selfie or an autograph, Sharma said, “I keep telling them that I would personally visit them and give them autographs or selfies once the coronavirus threat is over. When they approach me, I educate them on social distancing and the use of masks, hand sanitisers and basic hygiene. As I said, it’s time to educate people as not all have access to television or newspapers.”

Speaking further on awareness, the former Chennai Super Kings bowler said, “I would like to request readers through Sportstar that they stay indoors and not to venture out until and unless there is an emergency.”

The nippy medium-pace bowler had a special mention for the medicos who are working overtime in hospitals.

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Joginger Sharma has emphasised that the war against COVID-19 can only be won by staying indoors.   -  Special Arrangement

 

“I salute them. All the doctors, nurses, sanitation workers are working round the clock and I respect their dedication and commitment. People should realise that they are risking their lives to contain the spread of the virus,” he said.

Being on the front line and encountering danger every day is never easy, and Sharma admitted that he misses his family, who stay in Rohtak.

“I miss my family and we connect through video calls. My wife, my children, my parents and my in-laws, they are my strength and especially my children. They inspire me so much and are proud of me. This is a real game between life and death and I desperately want us to win this battle against coronavirus. With the efforts of the centre and state governments, I am sure this phase will pass and life will return to normalcy. But for that to happen, people need to stay indoors and keep fighting,” he said.

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