Odisha win first triangular blind girls' cricket series played in Dehradun
Their superior batting and bowling skills helped Odisha dominate the first triangular blind girls cricket series held in Dehradun. The series saw teams from Delhi, Odisha and Uttarakhand fighting it out for top honors.
Odisha, which held a 15-day training camp for their players prior to the series, had an edge over the rest. Their star players Basanti and Jhilli consistently demonstrated powerful strengths on the field in many aspects.
The final match was played between Delhi and Odisha. Although Delhi team captain Gulshan made a decent score of 37 not out, Odisha won in the 10th over quite comfortably.
"The Odisha team is very strong, much more than the others", said Naresh Nayal, Coach, Uttarakhand Cricket Team. "They are quick on the ground and their vision is a little better too. Compared to them, the ground orientation of the Uttarakhand players is weaker. The camp Odisha held prior to this event gave them a clear advantage".
For the Uttarakhand girls, the series may have ended disappointingly but the tips they gained will be invaluable.
I started playing recently and this series gave me exposure on things like how to organize your team better and strategize. We never practiced regularly earlier but after this series, we have decided to train on a regular basis. - Ravina Sharma, Captain, Uttarakhand Blind Girls' Cricket Team
The enthusiasm shown by the Uttarakhand players has motivated the coach into looking at ways into building greater support for the game. Currently the blind girls' team is made up of students of the National Institute of Visually Handicapped in Dehradun and does. Coach Nayal plans to approach other blind schools in the state to build greater popularity.
"The average age of the players in our team is 17-18 while in the other teams, they are more experienced. There is also not much awareness about cricket here, but there are many schools so if we can encourage them to play, we could build a competitive team", says Nayal.
Nayal plans to ask the state government to offer a sports quota in the blind schools on the lines of what is offered in mainstream schools.
For the Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI), the enthusiastic participation is a sign that blind girls cricket has a bright future. A lot, however, depends on support.
"There are many challenges when it comes to girls", points out Shailendra Yadav, General Secretary, Cricket Association of the Blind, Delhi. "The Delhi team practices in a park, which is not very safe. We need women coaches as well. But we can still build a strong national team. The girls have the passion and commitment. If states like Odisha and Jharkhand, which have such poor facilities, can play well, it's a good sign".
For all of this to happen, there has to be commitment and initiative from the government and the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI). Something authorities in countries like Pakistan and Nepal are showing. Next month, these two countries will play the first bilateral international series in blind girls cricket.
"If the Pakistan board can support their blind cricket teams, why not the Indian cricket board", asks Yadav. "The Indian board just talks and does nothing. Now is the time for action."
The BCCI has shown little sign of that even for the blind men's team, which has performed incredibly well, Given this, the only glimmer of hope lies in corporate support.