India’s World Cup-winning blind cricket team wishes you a very happy Republic Day

The Indian blind cricket champions, who brought home the 2018 Blind Cricket World Cup — their second consecutive triumph — open up about how it gives them a new high every time they win for the country.

Updated: Jan 27, 2018 14:33:02

By Shreya Mukherjee

The Indian blind cricket team raises the tricolour — always proud to win for the nation, they say. (Amal KS/ HT)

They are most comfortable in their team jerseys. Focus and dedication are their watchwords. They literally eat, drink, and sleep cricket. We’re talking about India’s blind cricket team. By lifting the 2018 Blind Cricket (ODI) World Cup in Sharjah — the team’s second world cup win — they have made the entire nation proud once again.

The blind cricket team is ecstatic that the world cup win came so close to India’s Republic Day. ( Amal KS/ HT )

“I can’t express how we felt, beating Pakistan to win the world cup,” says an emotional Ajay Kumar Reddy, captain of India’s blind cricket team. “The winning moment is always special, more so when you’re playing for your country, and we won the cup closer to Republic Day. Everyone tweeted, starting from our Prime Minster Narendra Modi, to other popular personalities… Such moments take me back to my initial days when, after losing my vision partially, I went into depression, thinking my world has come to an end. Nothing is impossible if you work hard, and nurture the tenacity to continue,” says Reddy.

Reddy’s partnership with D Venkateshwara Rao put the Indian team in a strong position in the final match against Pakistan. When Rao got out, Reddy teamed up with Sunil Ramesh and, together, they added 156 runs to the scoreboard, with Reddy hitting a total of 63, and Sunil scoring 93.

“Desh ke liye kuch karna hi hamare liye badi baat hain (It means a lot to us to be able to do something for the country). I had tears in my eyes, felt short of words when we won the cup,” says Rao, who made his International debut in 2011. He has been a consistent player in the team, which won two Blind T20 World Cup tournaments in 2012 and 2017, the Blind Cricket (ODI) World Cup in 2014, and the Asia Cup in 2016.

The blind cricket team wants to be recognised for its endeavour. ( Amal KS/ HT )

Nineteen-year-old Ramesh is extremely excited. After all, he made his international debut last year and this was his first world cup. “I still remember, in first standard [in school], I started losing vision in my left eye, and then I lost vision in my right eye completely. I went to a blind school, and they motivated me to play cricket, my first love.” Ramesh adds with a smile, “Disability is in your head.” Rao adds that everyone has talent; one needs to find their true calling and just follow their heart.

‘Thanks for all the love, but we also need recognition. We are, after all, playing for the country, much like the others. It’s just that we have eyesight issues, but that has never been a hindrance’ — cricketer Deepak Malik

“Thanks for all the love, but we also need recognition,” says cricketer Deepak Malik. “We are, after all, playing for the country, much like the others. It’s just that we have eyesight issues, but that has never been a hindrance.”

“They don’t need your sympathy,” says John David, head coach and selector of India’s blind cricket team. “Just give them a chance to show how good their game is. In terms of fitness, dedication, and technique, they are unmatchable.”

The selection process, according to David, is similar to any other game — players performing well in various clubs are then chosen to play in the district, state, zones, and then finally make it to the national team. The first Blind Cricket (ODI) World Cup was held in 1998, in New Delhi. The second was in 2002 in Chennai; then 2006 in Islamabad; 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa; and the 2018 venue was Sharjah, UAE.

Interestingly, David shares that they are already working on forming the Indian blind cricket team for women, to represent the country at the international level. States like Odisha, Gujarat, Bengal, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerala already have their own teams.

Interact with Shreya Mukherjee at Twitter/@Shreya_MJ

First Published: Jan 25, 2018 17:58:52


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