Every cricketer who represents his country aspires to become well-known. He enters the game with a single goal in mind: to leave an indelible mark on the game and win over supporters and admirers.
Cricket has produced a slew of superstars throughout the years, from Sir Don Bradman to Sachin Tendulkar with the bat and Joel Garner to Wasim Akram with the ball. The list continues to expand, and modern-day cricketers such as Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, and James Anderson appear to be among the best of their generation.
However, not everyone is capable of reaching the summit. There are innumerable stories of others who showed promise but were unable to succeed behind every Tendulkar and Anderson.
Cricketers are known for one memorable act.
In this series, we look at cricketers who haven’t had much success in international cricket but have had a few moments of brilliance that have cemented their place in cricketing history.
Joginder Sharma is ranked number one.
Joginder Sharma, a gentle medium-pacer from Haryana, only appeared in four One-Day Internationals and four Twenty-20 Internationals for India. He did, however, bowl one of the most important deliveries in Indian cricket history. He was the man who took Misbah-ul-last Haq’s wicket in the tense 2007 T20 World Cup final against Pakistan in Johannesburg.
The assassination of Misbah sparked wild celebrations across India, and Joginder became an overnight hero. Ironically, he never played for India again, concluding his international career with five wickets in eight T20I and ODI matches combined.
Last year, Joginder was in the news once more, but for a very different cause. He was on COVID-19 duty as a deputy superintendent of police in Haryana’s Hisar district.
Balwinder Sandhu, No. 2
He could be considered India’s first World Cup one-off hero. Balwinder Sandhu, a right-arm medium pacer from Mumbai, gave India the key breakthrough against the West Indies in the 1983 World Cup final at Lord’s.
The famous Gordon Greenidge, who shouldered arms to a delivery that came in sharply, was bowled by the former bowler. The wicket gave India hope that they could beat the mighty Windies, and Kapil Dev’s side went on to win the cricket World Cup.
The ball that Sandhu used to dismiss Greenidge in the 1983 World Cup final has become legendary in Indian cricket. His international career, on the other hand, lasted only two years. He took 26 international wickets in eight Tests and 22 One-Day Internationals. He also hit two fifties in Test cricket, which is sometimes overlooked.
Hrishikesh Kanitkar (#3)
Hrishikesh Kanitkar will always be remembered among Indian cricket fans who grew up in the 1990s. The 1998 Independence Cup final in Dhaka was on a knife’s edge (third of three best-of-three). In dwindling light, Kanitkar, on the other hand, held his nerve and blasted a boundary off Saqlain Mushtaq to lift India to victory.
In a tense cricket match, Kanitkar remained unbeaten on 11 off 12 as India chased down 315 with one ball to spare. The fact that the victory came against Pakistan, India’s most ferocious cricket adversary, elevated the young left-hander to even greater acclaim.
However, the celebrity was short-lived. Kanitkar unable to replicate comparable moments of brilliance and retired from international cricket after two Tests and 34 One-Day Internationals.
Asif Mujtaba, #4
Asif Mujtaba, a former Pakistan left-hander, played 25 Tests and 66 One-Day Internationals over the course of a decade. Despite numerous opportunities and clear potential, he was unable to get into international cricket.
Mujtaba’s name will be permanently linked to the last-ball six he smashed against Australia’s Steve Waugh in a one-day international in Hobart in December 1992. The Pakistani player bowled Waugh for 16 runs in an over, and the six he hit over midwicket tied the nerve-wracking encounter.
For his undefeated 56 off 51 balls, Mujtaba was voted Man of the Match. He finished his international career with a Test average of 24.42 and an ODI average of 26.04.