Nepal duo storms male bastion

Storming male bastion

Women cricketers generally go unnoticed while their male counterparts enjoy all the spotlight. That equation may continue to hold good in normal cricket, but in cricket
for the visually impaired, a couple of women have reworked the norms.

Nepal’s national team, which is taking part in the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup for the Blind, have two highly talented cricketers. But the story here is that, the two are women.

In blind cricket, the teams are allowed to field women and it is quite a common sight to see mixed teams participating in local tournaments, but it has never been witnessed at the international level.

Come Sunday, Nepal will run into a strong Bangladesh team in their opener, and that team will also include the bubbly 22-year-old in Bhagwati Bhattarai and the 21-year-old Rupa Ballal. Rupa is completely visually impaired while Bhagwati can see upto five metres but their disabilities have not stopped them from being good enough to play with the men against the men.

“This is the first time we will be taking part in the World Cup. It is a huge honour for us,” said Bhagwati during the inauguration ceremony at the Sree Kanteerava stadium on Saturday. “Women’s cricket is popular in Nepal, we have around 300 women playing there. We wa­nt to promote women’s cricket in any which way possible and that’s why we are here.”

Women’s cricket for the blind has been around for a little over a decade but it has not taken giant strides up until now. Bhagwati and Rupa are both anxious to put their skills to the test against the best eight other nations have to offer. The fact that their selectors picked them despite a lot of male players being available for selection speaks a lot about their ability.

“They started this blind cricket for women in Pokharo in 2006 and they urged us to join. Around 2009, both of us took it seriously and made it to the National team. The selectors were impressed with our skills and asked us to join the men’s team for this World Cup,” said Rupa. “We have had a lot of support and there is no gender bias in Nepal at all. I wish more women took to blind cricket from India.”

Irrespective of their performances and what comes out of Nepal’s performance here,
Bhagwati and Rupa will be lauded for their tenacity which may pave the way for many female cricketers in the years to come.

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