Folk performances, cultural routines, yogasanas mark thrilling opening ceremony

A positive energy reverberated through the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday, as the SBI T20 World Cup for the Blind kicked off with an uplifting opening ceremony here.

A massive contingent of schoolchildren performed cultural routines and spellbinding yogasanas, while local artistes in elaborate costumes danced to the hypnotic rhythm of drummers.

The international cricket tournament begins on Sunday, but all talk revolved around the boost provided by this tournament to blind cricket rather than the currently trending topic: captain M.S. Dhoni’s decision to ask for turning tracks against England.

Chandra’s praise

B.S. Chandrashekar, one of India’s most celebrated spinners, praised the organisers as well as the players.

“It is all about will power and talent. If you have these two qualities, you can achieve anything. I have seen able-bodied people unable to do what these cricketers can do,” he said. “We must do everything to encourage the tournament organisers Samarthanam. Hosting a World Cup is no joke, and I appreciate their efforts.”

The participating teams marched around the stadium to a standing ovation from the sizable crowd, thoroughly enjoying the attention as well the entertainment on display later.

Pakistani team

Zeeshan Abbasi, the Pakistan captain, spoke about his team’s fondness for India. “We are very happy to be in India. The Pakistan team played a bilateral series in India in February, and we felt no different from playing in Pakistan. The passionate crowds and the people we met in the country made us feel at home,” he said.

“India and Pakistan need people-to-people contact like this. We hope that this visit can bring improved relations between the two countries,” he added.

England captain Luke Sugg explained what the tournament meant to his team.

“We are truly fortunate to be here; many people would give anything to represent their country in a sport. I want to thank the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for giving us this opportunity. We will do it for England and the Three Lions on our jerseys.”

Bangladesh’s debut

Bangladesh, led by Mohammad Hafizur Rahman, is making its World Cup debut, and the team appeared visibly thrilled to witness the fanfare.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed this function. We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to the World Blind Cricket Council (world governing body) for inviting us to this event,” Rahman said.

Shekar Naik, the Indian captain, stated that his team is among the favourites along with Pakistan, adding that the hosts enter the tournament with a slight edge after its victory against Pakistan in the bilateral series earlier this year.

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