Batman with inner vision a hit - The New Indian Express

Batman with inner vision a hit

Published: 21st November 2012 10:54 AM

Last Updated: 21st November 2012 10:54 AM

It was the year 2005.

 Tension was soaring and the air was filled with anticipation.

 Gearing remnants of courage, as India battled Pakistan, a young lad made his way to the ground.

 With all hopes resting on his shoulders, he held his bat high and wished to make his country proud.

 That year, Shekhar scored 249 runs.

 Though the team lost the series, Shekhar had already won several hearts through his hard work and determination.

 Today, Shekhar is the captain of the Indian cricket team that will participate in the upcoming T-20 World Cup Cricket tournament for the blind to be held in the city from December 1 to 13.

 “I fulfilled my mother’s dreams”, said the 26-yearold visually-impaired cricketer as he made his way to the ground for practice sessions.

 While the young lad yelled instructions to his team mates, he enthusiastically told us about his journey with the popular sport.

 “Cricket has always held a special place in my heart.

 It gave my life a whole new purpose.

 I was born with poor eye sight and my condition deteriorated over the years.

 At the age of eight, I was completely blind.

 It is a genetic condition that runs in our family.

 My mother, aunts and cousins are visually impaired too.

 However, my poor vision never deterred my spirits in anyway,” said Naik as he tossed the ball to a fellow team mate.

 In 1994, Shekhar fell into a ditch and hurt himself.

 As luck would have it, a few hospital volunteers who were visiting his village in Shimoga as a part of an eye camp identified him and brought him to Bangalore for surgery, after which he was able to partially see objects till 3-4 metres.

 Thus, began his inspiring journey with cricket.

 “When I told my mother that I wanted to be a cricketer, she never stopped me from pursuing my dreams.

 My father passed away three months after my surgery.

 I didn’t get a chance to see his face properly.

 And, in 1998, my mother passed away.

 My parents were my pillars of strength.

 I hope they are proud of me,” said Naik who lives 3 km from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) campus on Bannerghatta Road.

 The cricketer also pointed out several issues faced by the team today.

 With absolutely no funding or sponsorships, the players are struggling to keep up.

 “I have been playing for almost 14 years and I haven’t managed to earn even `50,000.

 The only reason I kept going was that my mother never wanted me to give up.

 In other countries including Pakistan and Australia, blind cricket gets a lot of funding from the government as well as the normal cricket associations.

 However, in our country no such encouragement is given to us.

 Most of these players have been suppressed their entire life owing to their condition.

 If we don’t help them now, they will lose all hope,” said Naik who further added that his teammates from Haryana and Gujarat have come to play on ‘loss of pay’.

 When asked who his favourite cricketer was, Shekhar’s face lit up immediately as he revealed: “I have been a huge fan of Virender Sehwag.

 I hope to meet him someday.

 It has been my dream for a while.”

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