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Monday, Aug 26, 2019

Don’t want Sachin Tendulkar, PM Modi’s wishes, say emotional blind cricket World Cup heroes

The Indian cricket team registered its fourth consecutive Blind World Cup triumph and continued its dominant run by defeating Pakistan, but they continue to suffer due to a lack of recognition.

cricket Updated: Jan 23, 2018 20:28 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India defeated Pakistan by two wickets to lift their second Blind Cricket World Cup title in Sharjah on Saturday.
India defeated Pakistan by two wickets to lift their second Blind Cricket World Cup title in Sharjah on Saturday.(Twitter)

The Blind World Cup-winning Indian cricket team arrived at the central park in Connaught Place on Tuesday with their trophy and flags. Grey skies and a drizzle greeted them, but their enthusiasm was not dampened.

Delhi is receiving rain after a long time. Some say the team brought the welcome showers. An Indian cricket team member, Mahendra Vaishnav, said even when they landed in the United Arab Emirates for the tournament, they were greeted by rain.

After posing under the massive tri-colour at the park, the team boarded the bus. Prakash Jayaramaiah, a senior player, sang ‘Ae zindagi gale laga le’, a popular number from the 1983 hit Sadma starring Kamal Haasan and Sridevi, as they soak in the moment.

READ | India subdue Pakistan in thriller to defend Blind Cricket World Cup title

Captained by Ajay Reddy, India defeated Pakistan by two wickets in the final to clinch the title. The win helped maintain their glorious run in Blind Cricket tournaments, India having won the 2012, 2017 Twenty20 World Cups and the 2014, 2018 World Cups.

Triumph over Pakistan

In all those victories, Pakistan was the common factor. When asked about the key aspect behind the dominance, Reddy beamed: “In the final, Pakistan was under pressure, having lost consistently to us. Whatever be the situation, even if it comes to laying down our lives, we are determined to win against them.”

Sunil Ramesh, the 19-year-old batsman, was Man-of-the-Match in the final for his brilliant 93. Mention Pakistan and he gets excited. “I was extra motivated. I am glad India gave me a chance to bat in the final.”

Deepak Malik jumps in and praises ‘guruji’ Jayaramaiah for his guidance. “Guruji can be aggressive like Virender Sehwag and calm like MS Dhoni,” Malik said. Prakash Jayaramaiah gives a fresh spin. “Prakash means Pakistan poora darta hain. The team manager gave me the name in the 2014 World Cup,” he guffaws.

READ | ‘Jahan chah wahan raah’ - Sachin Tendulkar leads wishes on India’s Blind Cricket World Cup win

Despite the success, the team craves recognition. While Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) is not affiliated to BCCI, there is only token support from the government. Facilities, even a practice ground, are hard to get.

Not tweets, need help

Reddy, with a mixture of disappointment and anger, said: “In Pakistan, the blind cricket team gets support from the PCB. There is a budget for them. When they won the World Cup in 2002, they got official recognition. They are getting regular salaries, government jobs and special rewards while playing. They have won only two World Cups, we have won five, yet we don’t have stability.”

READ | Harmanpreet Kaur to lead Indian women’s cricket team in T20 series vs South Africa

Even the congratulatory messages don’t serve any purpose. “Sachin (Tendulkar) sir and PM Narendra Modi are tweeting congratulations, but no one comes out and offers support. We don’t need tweets,” Ajay Reddy said.

Amid the dejection, the Indian skipper dedicates the win to the Indian soldiers before signing off, “We’ll never give up playing cricket.”

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 19:07 IST

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