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A team with difference on a mission

Maravir Rawat

Jitender KV of Karnataka was just one year old when he was bitten by a black Indian cobra snake. Such was the impact of the poison that he was unconscious for two days. The quacks of the area had suggested that his hand be amputated but his parents waited for a miracle. A local medicine keeper used scissors and cut open the wound and applied some local medicine. A miracle indeed happened and Jitender’s hand began to heal – albeit slowly. And it always remained weak. However, instead of complaining, Jitender started to use the flexibility of that hand and to bowl. Today he has been selected to represent India in the Physically Handicapped World Cup which will be played in England in the first half of August.

Ramesh Naidu comes from a small village and his fingers didn’t grow as it did with other children. But he didn’t give up. He kept his focus and with the help of his family got into IIT, Vishakhapatnam.  Ramesh is a big fan of legendary leg spinner Shane Warne and has worshipped the work ethic of Anil Kumble. No doubt he was automatically inclined to bowl leg spin. He practice hard in the nets, but with half grown fingers he just didn’t have the necessary physical ability to bowl leg spin. But he watched the videos of these legends and worked with his body. Today Ramesh is the star leg spinner of the differently-abled cricket team.

These are just two stories but once you meet and talk to the members of this cricket team, their stories are guaranteed to inspire you. The differently-abled team of India will take part in the first Cricket World Cup for the Disabled to be held in England from August 2 to August 14. The first-of-its-kind event has already generated a lot of enthusiasm from all the participating countries. This prestigious event of the world cup having national teams of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and England. This being hosted by England and Wales Cricket Board and accordingly, our differently-abled cricket team is being sent to England with the due consent and permission of BCCI.

Team India may have hit the Kiwi roadblock in its endeavour to win the ICC Cricket World Cup in England, but another team India is planning to complete the mission of becoming world champions. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi coined a new word “Divyang’’ to this community so that the perception of people can be changed. But in a country where no provisions are made for them, who can imagine them taking any sport.

Ravi Chauhan is the secretary of the newly formed cricket body for the physically challenged and knows the hardships to reach to this level. “The biggest challenge was to come under one umbrella as many organisations were the caretakers of such cricket. We had to convince everyone that personal interest should be left behind and the interest of the players should be kept ahead.”

BCCI also advised them to come together. And when they did, BCCI gave them permission to use their name. But apart from permission there has been no help from anybody. Right from their travelling to staying in England, everything had to be looked upon by their parent body.

The complaints can go on, but the best thing for these players is that they are representing their country and are on a mission. Vikrant Kaini is the captain of the team and is called VK, just like the captain of the able-bodied cricket team captain Virat Kohli. But this VK is a little less aggressive with his expressions and is more of an MS Dhoni mould. But he does believe in his team and trusts them to win the world cup and go two steps further then Virat Kohli’s team did in the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup.

A big salute to their dedication and never-say-die spirit – whatever the result of the world cup may be, these 16 young differently-abled players are already winners as they have defeated the disability which tried to crumble their dreams.

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