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Posted at: Jan 28, 2017, 2:31 AM; last updated: Jan 28, 2017, 2:31 AM (IST)

Haryana stars get ready to rock T20 World Cup for blind

Sabi Hussain

Tribune News Service

new delhi, january 27

Deepak Malik bowls at a speed of 140km/hr and is regarded as the world’s fastest bowler. He also holds the record of the fastest half-century in the ODI World Cups. Another talented lad, Rambir Singh, holds the record for the most economical bowling (at under six runs per over) in Asia Cup T20. Both are young and promising but the most cruel part is that they cannot see. 

The two are visually impaired.

Hailing from district Sonepat, Malik and Singh are part of India’s blind cricket team which will participate in the second edition of the T20 Blind Cricket World Cup, beginning in Delhi on January 30.

Malik and Singh were not blind by birth. Malik lost his vision in 2004 when a firecracker hit him in the eye during Diwali celebrations, Singh lost sight of his left eye at the age of four due to an intraocular malignancy, a type of eye cancer. But the duo did not allow blindness to hamper their dreams. “Everything was normal for me till that Diwali night in 2004 when a rocket hit my eye and left me in the dark. Slowly, my left eye also got affected and my life came to a standstill. My family sent me to a blind school (Institute for the Blind at Panchkuia Road) in Delhi in 2008. There, I got hooked to blind cricket as I thought that was the only way to live a respectable life,” Malik said.

“Initially, my family was not supportive of the idea to take up cricket. For them, only wrestling and kabaddi qualified as sports. My elder brother Vijender Malik is an international-level kabaddi player. He recently represented Jaipur Pink Panthers in the Pro Kabaddi League. My family was impressed with my skills when as a part of the Indian blind cricket team we won the 2014 ODI World Cup by beating Pakistan. After that, their rejection turned into acceptance. This time they have promised they would come to Delhi to watch some of the matches of the T20 Blind Cricket World Cup,” added Malik, whose father is an agriculturist.

Blind but fastest in world 

Malik holds the distinction of being the world’s fastest bowler in blind cricket. As per the rules of blind cricket, the bowling is always underarm and the ball is filled with ball-bearings so that fully or partially-blind cricketers can hear the sound and judge the trajectory of the ball. According to the chief coach Patrick Raj Kumar, Malik normally touches a speed of 135-140 km/hr.

When Malik was first selected for the Indian team in 2013, the 21-year-old took the sport by storm. 

At the ODI World Cup, he earned back-to-back Man of the Match awards for his superlative performance. In the semifinal against Sri Lanka, he took two wickets and hit the fastest fifty of the ODI World Cup in just 17 balls, remaining unbeaten at 78 off 33 balls. In the final against Pakistan, he scored a 33-ball 65 and accounted for two batsmen to help India lift the trophy for the first time. In last year’s Asia Cup final against Pakistan in Kochi, Malik scored 45 runs and took three wickets to take the team home.

For Singh, a 19-year-old from Sonepat’s Saidpur village, it was his good performance in 2015 and 2016 Nationals that convinced his family that his decision to take up the sport was correct. “My parents would tell me to look for a government job through quotas for the physically-challenged. Since I had a deep passion for cricket, I did not let blindness come in way of my dreams. When I got selected for the Asia Cup my family distributed sweets in my village,” said Singh, who will be playing his first World Cup.

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