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India win opening match against Bangladesh in 3-day T-20 wheelchair cricket series

The three-day International T-20 Wheelchair Cricket Series got off to an exciting start with hosts India beating Bangladesh by 58 runs in the opening match in Mumbai on Thursday evening. Saurabh Malik was declared Man of the Match for his solid knock for 100 runs.

The series, organized by the Disabled Sporting Society and the Wheelchair Cricket Association of Maharashtra will end on 1 April. All three matches are being played in Mumbai, two of them are day-night matches.

India is in for some tough competition in this series. Defending champions Bangladesh has many experienced players and solid international experience. Indian captain Ramesh Sartape is confident that his team will put up a tough challenge.

We have some promising newcomers in the Indian side and I am confident they will deliver. There are four countries playing wheelchair cricket in the world, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and India. Sri Lanka is also looking to make an entry. Bangladesh clearly has an edge having won the championship in the standing category in 2018. - Ramesh Sartape, Captain, Indian Wheelchair Cricket Team

Rules of the game

The rules of wheelchair cricket are broadly similar to the more well-known version. There are some differences, however. For instance, there are two categories - standing, where the players don't use wheelchairs and then there's the wheelchair category.

Some other rules are:

  • The cricket ground is 45-50 yards, the pitch, 18 yards.
  • Standards of ball and bat used in the match follow international cricket norms.
  • The ball is made of leather.
  • T-20 matches are conducted, with 11 players in a side.
  • During play, if a cricketer's feet touch the ground, he is disqualified.
  • While bowling, if the ball in thrown, its declared a no ball.
  • When the front tire of the wheelchair crosses the crease while bowling, it's a no ball.
  • Rest of the game is played as per International Cricket Council (ICC) rules.

In India, despite the growing popularity, there is no official support for wheelchair cricket. The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) refuses to recognize the game despite many petitions.

Contrast this to Nepal and Bangladesh where the cricket boards have recognized the game and offer funding support. In Pakistan too, the situation is better with the Pakistan Cricket Board offering indirect support.

'It is this backing that has enabled Bangladesh to reach such heights in wheelchair cricket, says Rahul Ramugade, a senior player in the Indian team. "In 2017, when the world championship was held in Nepal, we had to travel for over 30 hours by bus to get to Nepal to play the matches. We travelled from Mumbai to a city in UP by train and then boarded a bus. We slept and ate on the bus.

The Nepal and Bangladesh teams, on the other hand, are flown to various venues by their boards, and given funding for gear and wheelchairs. "Here, the BCCI refuses to acknowledge us, says Ramugade. "For this T-20 series, we had to find the sponsors. Thankfully the Bangladesh team has flown at its own expense and we are organizing their local travel, food and accommodation.

Despite all these hurdles, the Indian wheelchair cricket team is determined to make a mark. "We may not have good wheelchairs but our batting and bowling is very good and we are going to try our best to win that trophy, says skipper Sartape on a positive note.

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