Joginder plays the hard way

Published: Friday, December 24, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Dhaka:There was nothing spectacular about Joginder Sharma's maiden appearance in One-Day Internationals. But the figures that went against his name on the scorecard show that he plays his game the hard way.

He could face only seven balls in the Indian innings and remained unbeaten on five. But he also bowled eight overs in two spells for 1-28, and took a well judged catch in the deep.

Importantly, he did not have an iota of stage fright. Playing for India A made him feel "normal", he said.

"I did not get enough time with the bat," was how he summed up his first game in India colours.

The 21-year-old lad from Rohtak, Haryana, belongs to a middle class family which depends on the meagre income earned from a paan shop business.

Yet, he talks about his India debut in the first One-Day International against Bangladesh in Chittagong on Thursday in a matter-of-fact manner. "It was very difficult at the start. You know it is a bit expensive and I had to depend on my friends' help. It was tough, hard. But somehow I never thought about such things," Joginder said as he looked back on the thorny path he had walked.

"I just played my cricket, concentrated on the game. I got to play for the state, then the zone and now India," he said.

Joginder made his Ranji Trophy debut three years ago. He merited the selection with two back to back centuries and 30 wickets in four matches so far this season.

He said it did not bother him that his state team did not enjoy the media exposure like Delhi or Punjab did in the North Zone.

"I did not think about it, exposure and other things. Many people from the state have played for India before," he said.

Being an all-rounder, Pakistan's Abdul Razzaq and South Africa's Jacques Kallis are the two cricketers he keenly follows.

"What I like in them is their fighting spirit, the ability to do well when the team needs them, and their attitude to the game," he said.

Kapil Dev is the name that comes to mind when Haryana is mentioned in the context of Indian cricket. But Joginder still has a long way to go before being associated with his legendary state-mate.

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