J&K: How women cricketers 'defied' the lockdown

The Times of India

The Times of India

Author 2019-10-05 00:15:00

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The Jammu and Kashmir women team all-rounder fixes her gaze at the white leather ball in the hands of the Baramulla lanky pacer Iqra Rasool’s before she pulls it over the mid-wicket boundary. Between them Qausar Jabeen, 24 and Rubiya Syed, 22, sprint across the ground for a warm-up.

Though there is a bit of rustiness due to the lack of practice since August 5 when the law and order restrictions kept the grounds out of access, the grit and determination of these aspiring women cricketers in Kashmir's villages, remains sharp.

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Playing for Jammu and Kashmir, on Thursday, some of these girls flew to Jammu where selection trials are taking place for the upcoming U-19, U-23 and women’s senior cricket team that will play its scheduled matches for the season beginning October 14.

“Insha allah, I will make it with flying colours in the trials. I am glad I could keep up with my practice at my home with male members during this period. I didn’t stop practice. My goal is to play for Team India someday. But that will happen only with hard work. I am excited for the upcoming T20 season,” says Hassan, clad in a blue jersey and track pants, with a lotus logo.

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Hassan, a daughter of a mason from Srinagar’s Soura — the hotbed of separatism which erupted with violent protests after the Centre revoked special status of J&K on August 5— is the most talked about inspirational cricketer in the state’s women senior team.

On the other hand, Rasool, who has grown up making cakes and buttercups at her father’s tiny bakery shop in Baramulla’s Dangiwacha, has just returned from Kolkata to cement her place in U-19 and U-23 team for Jammu and Kashmir.

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Apart from breaking the gender glass ceiling in the conservative sections of Kashmir society, the young women cricketers from underprivileged families have also taken upon themselves to be successful bread-winners. Jabeen, who is third among seven sisters, for example, has to ensure marriage prospects for other siblings. Thanks to their physical stamina and mountain regimen combined with their will and determination, they believe they can fulfil their responsibilities.

The girls get Rs 700 a day during selection trials for food and lodging. The cost for commuting between their villages to the stadium and flights for training is to be borne solely by them.

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“We are working hard to ensure Valley representation in our state team. Every year, we have six to seven girls from Anantnag, Sopore, Baramulla, Tral and such difficult places. Not many girls from elite class and urban areas come. But these girls prosper and bring us glory and pride,” said Rupali.

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