Parveez Rasool’s weathered features reflect his recent exertions on the field, belying his shy demeanour. His unshaven chin and steely eyes may suggest haughtiness but the 24-year-old is quite unassuming.

Evidently unaccustomed to the trappings of success and fame as yet, Rasool’s nervousness was in plain sight at a sponsor-organised event on Tuesday.

“It’s easier to bowl on the ground than to face the media,” he admitted sheepishly.

Unlike other interactions where sportspersons restrict themselves to speaking only on “the special relationship” they share with the endorsed brand, this press conference also touched upon the story of the first cricketer from Kashmir to make the National squad.

“I earlier used to play as a batting all-rounder, but Bishan ‘sir’ groomed my bowling skills. After I won a match for my team in a practice fixture, he encouraged me further. He also claimed that I would become the first player from my state to represent India,” says Rasool, smiling at the recollection.

Bishan Singh Bedi, a former Jammu and Kashmir coach, had picked Rasool out at a Ranji Trophy selection camp in 2011, and had gone on to describe him as “the best off-spinner in the state”, and Rasool says he has been fortunate to train under the legendary left-arm spinner.

Coming from a state not exactly synonymous with cricketing success, Rasool knows his selection to the Indian team has the potential to boost cricket in troubled Jammu & Kashmir. The all-rounder says that the state cricket association and the corporate sector are injecting more funds into the game.

The recently held corporate league and inter-city competitions bear testimony to cricket’s growing popularity in J&K.

Rasool understandably refuses to answer any questions regarding his non-selection in the playing eleven for the ODI series against Zimbabwe, but expresses hopes of making a much-awaited debut soon. However, the 24-year-old, a great admirer of Sachin Tendulkar and Graeme Swann, knows he needs to work harder before he can become a regular at international level.

“In South Africa (on India A’s tour), I played bowlers who bowled in the region of 140-145 kilometres per hour,” he says.

“I want to bowl to better quality batsmen. It will help me to improve my game. As a batsman, I want to face more fast bowling.” — Sports Reporter

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