T20 World Cup: “Dhoni said, ‘If we win, you take the credit. If they win, I will take the blame,’” says Joginder Sharma

‘I could not have let the team down. My captain, MS Dhoni, had placed immense faith in me.’

Published : Jun 05, 2024 21:08 IST - 3 MINS READ

Joginder Sharma celebrates with teammates during the 2007 T20 World Cup.
Joginder Sharma celebrates with teammates during the 2007 T20 World Cup. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Joginder Sharma celebrates with teammates during the 2007 T20 World Cup. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

That one ball was a moment of intense pressure that changed my life. The Pakistanis were on the verge of a win, and Misbah-ul-Haq threatened to spoil our party. He had put his team on the cusp of victory, and the weight of that moment was palpable. Every team member was tense, and I was no exception. The gravity of the situation was overwhelming.

I could not have let the team down. My captain, MS Dhoni, had placed immense faith in me. I knew why. He had seen me bowl the last overs in domestic and local matches, so he was far more confident than me. That is the beauty of having a captain like Dhoni.

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Our journey through the tournament was a testament to our resilience and skill. From the bowl-out finish after a tie against Pakistan to the grand finale, we played some outstanding cricket. We found our match-winners in each challenging situation, and I was about to discover that I would have to play a critical role in one of the most crucial moments of the tournament.

We lost to New Zealand in the early part of the competition but came back strongly. The surge came from a sensational knock by Yuvraj Singh against England. What a performance!

The calculated assault by Yuvraj on Stuart Broad was a confirmation of his range of strokes and a positive mindset. Broad was left bruised. As a bowler, I could read his mind. It can be very demoralising, but Yuvraj is such an exceptional batsman.

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Once we defeated England, South Africa, and Australia, the next two also bowed to our team’s all-around talent. It was a new format for us, but it was amazing how the team adapted to the inputs from coaches, Lalchand Rajput and Venkatesh Prasad. Practising the bowl-out was a well-thought-out strategy, and it worked beautifully. Winning that match was crucial. We found our strength in the England contest and never looked back. Like the 1983 team under Kapil Dev, this squad had little expectations from the fans. We could have done better in the 2007 ODI World Cup, and that’s why winning the inaugural T20 World Cup was so joyful. It changed the lives of many cricketers.

Let me get back to that ball. Pakistan needed 13 to win, with Misbah on fire. Dhoni gave me the ball with the assurance, “If we win, you take the credit. If they win, I will take the blame.” This galvanised me.

I bowled a wide to start with but managed to follow it up with a dot ball. I felt so relieved. And then Misbah hit me for a six. I could feel the tension, but I was not perturbed. I saw Dhoni’s calm and inspiring face. I attacked Misbah on the stumps, and he tried to scoop the ball over S. Sreesanth. He could not clear Sreesanth, who held on to the skier as if his life depended on it. We had won, and I was delighted to be part of history. I have relived that ball a million times!

As told to Vijay Lokapally

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