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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

After Tendulkar’s wicket, handicapped Gurudas Raut wants to challenge Virat Kohli

Gurudas Raut, born without his left-arm, has overcome his birth defect to make a mark as an all-rounder in the India team for the disabled. After bowling to Sachin Tendulkar in the nets, Raut hopes to send down a few deliveries to Virat Kohli and Co ahead of the India vs Australia Nagpur ODI.

india-vs-australia-2017 Updated: Sep 29, 2017 19:26 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Nagpur
Gurudas Raut is a member of the Indian disabled cricket team.
Gurudas Raut is a member of the Indian disabled cricket team. (HT Photo )

“I remember people used to mock, threaten and bully me, and over everything, question how I would be a cricketer with a left arm. Well, today I am what I am.”

Gurudas Raut, an all-rounder with the India team for the disabled, has faced what most differently-abled persons have as a child. And like most of them, Raut’s perennial complaint as a boy was why he couldn’t have been born others.

(Read | Why Virat Kohli doesn’t agree with Sunil Gavaskar’s ‘one of the greatest’ comment)

Raut was born without a left arm, but now an Air Force employee, the 29-year-old feels it has actually helped as it forced him to manage everything using his right hand.

Bowling Tendulkar

No, Raut is not exactly talking about having food, taking bath and doing other daily chores despite the handicap. What he boasts of is rattling Sachin Tendulkar’s timber while bowling in the nets, taking three consecutive ‘catches’ on the rope when David Miller was practicing with the South African side, and hitting Irfan Pathan for a boundary while at a national camp in Baroda back in 2011.

(Read | Virat Kohli hints Hardik Pandya might have this big surprise in store for him)

“My interest in cricket started with watching the game on television. But being disabled, I knew these were distant dreams,” Raut told Hindustan Times in a telephonic chat on Friday. “I used to hear comments like ‘You’re handicapped. Stay safe or else you’ll lose your other hand as well.’ It took me some time, but I realised they won’t ever stop and it’s better if I don’t pay heed to their remarks.”

Gurudas Raut poses with the current Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli.
Gurudas Raut poses with the current Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli. ( HT Photo )

Humble origins

One of three sons of a farmer, monetary constraints also made it difficult to realise his dream. Staying away from the game, or getting proper coaching, was tough. Thus, he relied on tennis ball cricket.

(Read | Kedar Jadhav, Indian cricket team’s ‘golden arm’, strikes again)

“One day I was standing next to the Reshimbagh cricket ground (a local club) where the batsman had hit a six and the ball was going to hit us. I was sipping tea with my friend. With no alternative, I had to throw the cup away and catch the ball one-handed. That was my introduction to leather-ball cricket. I didn’t even know there were official teams for people like us back then. Uttam Mishra, my sir, got me enrolled in a club. There, the coach provided me with necessary equipment.”

Raut made it to the Maharashtra team in 2006 and hasn’t looked back since. From collecting individual laurels to leading the side against Pakistan away from home and winning the ODI series 3-0 and a one-off T20, Raut has cashed in on his opportunities.

Currently vice-captain of his side, Raut trains for two-three hours daily and spends as much time working out in the gym.

Raut hopes to meet Virat Kohli and Co at the ground on Saturday, on the eve of the fifth ODI against Australia, and send down a few deliveries in the nets.

First Published: Sep 29, 2017 18:31 IST