'We fly same Indian flag as they do'

PROUD MOMENT

'We fly same Indian flag as they do'

When the Indian cricket team is facing a mid-life crisis in term of performance; when runs from the willow have dried up significantly; when there are talks of Sac­h­in Tendulkar’s retirement and there seems to be no one promising enough to fill his place and when bowlers are not in great form either, there is this team which has won T20 World Cup for the Blind and that too against arch riv­a­ls Pakistan.

Understandably, the team is in a jubilant mood after clinching the inaugural Blind Cricket Twenty20 World Cup in Bengaluru on December 13. Cheered on by 6000-odd, the home team romped in with style, but the win was tinged with unhappiness for it has not been applauded by those who matter.

Talking to Metrolife post their historic win, Patrick Rajkumar, the coach was relie­v­ed after proving that impossible is nothing. “It is a feeling that cannot be explained. The players put in more than 100 per cent. We were prepared to play a tough tournament with teams like Pakistan and England but left no stone unturned to ensure that we would be the best eventually.”

Patrick adds, “My whole motto was to build confidence and not to deal with the players with pity and I succeeded. But the worse part is that we haven’t got any support from the Karnataka Cricket Association or the BCCI. We haven’t got a single call from anybody or any player from the international cricket team. It is really sad as these boys need a lot of support.”

There are three categories of visually impaired players – B1, B2 and B3. B1 comprise players who are completely blind and only four players from this category can be a part of the te­am; B2 are the ones who can see upto three met­r­es and only three players can be part of a team while B3 can see upto six metres and four members make it to the team.

Captain Shekhar Naik, shared his joy with Metrolife and also expla­i­ned his strategy while playing against Pakistan. “We have already played more than 35 matches against Pakistan. So, we studied their bowling and batting line-ups and also took into account their mind games, which eventually helped us in lifting the Cup.”

While not as forthright as the coach, he too expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of support, “We not only need support in terms of money but also encouragement by cricket governing bodies. Cricket is cricket, it is universal for everybody – whether it is for the disabled or for the ‘normal’ Indian cricket team. We also raise the same Indian flag as they do.”

Unhappiness apart, like ot­h­­er cricket fans, some of them also have idols from the Indian cricket team. For instance, right-handed batsman Sanje­ev Kumar Dalal, a B1 category player idolises Virat Kohli, “Virat survives in difficult times and I connect with him becau­se I also try to succeed in difficult situations.”

Is he happy with the win? “Yes, but the team members only got Rs 20,000 each – which is nothing. The Man of the Match/Series and other winners distributed their winning amounts among team members but nobody from the government or BCCI came forward to give us incentives.”

The stupendous win has been marred for all of them it would appear. Its time that they were acknowledged too.

Comments (+)