On July 14 last year, the 29-year-old Munis Ansari had just debuted in international cricket. Miles away from India, the Madhya Pradesh native gave the first sign of his talent for Oman when he grabbed four wickets for 15 runs to help his side restrict the Netherlands to 135 in the 14-nation World Cup qualifier. A slinger --- and he insists his action is not modelled on Lasith Malinga --- the medium pacer, along with Rajesh Ranpura, a Gujarati, forms the backbone of World T20 debutants Oman’s pace squad.
It was the apathy of the local cricket association, economic factors and desire to play cricket which forced Ansari to shift to Oman in 2007. “It was a dream to play top-flight cricket. The association (MPCA) back home didn’t give me any support despite performances. I was overlooked at every step. When the opportunity came to shift to Oman with a promise that I can play cricket too, I grabbed the opportunity,” he said. In Oman’s first match of the World T20, Ansari was right on the money with his slingers. Accounting for Gary Wilson, Ansari later scalped Ireland’s middle-order stalwarts Neil and Kevin O’Brien.
In India, the biggest opportunity that came Ansari’s way was playing for Rest of India XI’s warm-up match against England. “I was in the Madhya Pradesh Ranji probable list but didn’t make it to the team. I have played school cricket and under-19 also for the state but then opportunities dried up. So I made the move,” he said.
Ansari hasn’t forgotten the treatment he received at the hands of the cricket administrators here in India and the fire to prove his doubters wrong still motivates him.
“I was not given any opportunity here by my local association because of my action. So I just want to make the people who doubted me sit up and see me perform. My goal is to help my side progress and be the best bowler for Oman,” Ansari, who works and plays for Khimji Ramdas, an Oman-based conglomerate which has as many six players in the side, said.