Cricket

‘Our boys are mentally very strong’

Chance to create history, says skipper Rasool

Ashiq Hussain Bukhari tells a story from August, soon after the state of Jammu and Kashmir had gone into virtual lockdown. With no other means of reaching his players, Bukhari, CEO of the JKCA and a former DIG, sent word to police stations in the districts. They were to reach out to certain Ranji Trophy probables in their towns, and ask them to assemble in Jammu, from where the group was to fly out to Baroda for a pre-season camp. As a patrol vehicle reached one player’s house, he got out and ran, afraid that he was going to be arrested. He returned only after the police had explained the situation to his father.

“It was a difficult time because phones were blocked,” says the J & K captain Parvez Rasool. “I didn’t even know if my neighbour was there. In that situation, what do you do? Credit should go to CEO saab.”

That J & K recovered from that painful interruption to pre-season and has now gone on to reach the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy says much about the team’s mental strength. During the team’s training camp in Baroda, mentor Irfan Pathan and coach Milap Mewada made it a point to talk to their Kashmir-based players every day. “We were worried for them because they could not reach their families. But they were fine,” says Mewada.

This is only a second Ranji Trophy quarterfinal appearance for J & K, and a first knockout match on home soil. “This is a chance to create history,” says Rasool. “I was telling our players that this game can prove to be a turning point in their career.”

That Jammu is hosting a game of this magnitude could prove to be hugely significant for cricket in the state. “You can see how much passion for cricket exists,” says Rasool, still the only cricketer from the state to have played for India. “There is no infrastructure in Kashmir but you go to any alley there, you will see that they are playing only cricket. In the last two years, we have got players from the remotest of towns, from districts like Doda and Kishtwar. All these external things do not affect us. Our boys are mentally very strong. They have no alternative.”

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 3:36:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/our-boys-are-mentally-very-strong/article30862396.ece

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