From Valley with Fire, J&K Steal Show - The New Indian Express

From Valley with Fire, J&K Steal Show

Published: 21st December 2013 02:40 AM

Last Updated: 22nd December 2013 03:24 AM

One recap of the recent years of Ranji Trophy will tell you a story. Apart from heavyweights like Mumbai, Delhi, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, teams like Rajasthan, Railways, Saurashtra and Services have made their mark in the tournament.

Skipper Rasool has led from the front with 408 runs and 10 wickets in six matches.
Continuing the trend this year has been Jammu and Kashmir. Though the sport has been popular among the masses in the valley, J&K spent years in the lower division. They still do, but for a change they top the Group C with four wins and two defeats.

Until recently the state’s contribution to the national team was mostly nothing. Mohammad Nabi showed promise in the early 2000s before vanishing. Then in 2013, they had their moment, when Parvez Rasool was selected for India’s tour of Zimbabwe in August. But the seeds of success were sowed a couple of years ago  (2011) when they roped in former India captain Bishen Singh Bedi to coach the state Ranji and under-22 teams.

Results didn’t come instantly and Bedi was sacked for being partisan to certain players. But the process he set in continued under the guidance of Abdul Qayum.

Skipper Rasool has led from the front with 408 runs and 10 wickets in six matches. He has found allies in Adil Rishi, Ian Dev Singh, Mohammad Mudhasir and Samiullah Beigh. “Obviously it’s a big thing for all of us. Last season we could have done better after winning two games on the trot. But we learnt from it and now the entire team is gelling well and the result is showing,” Rasool told TNIE.

Creditably, Rasool’s selection to the national side has inspired many. “Now they too believe they can also do it and are working hard for it. Even our under-19 team is doing well this season,” Rasool said.

Rasool doesn’t forget to credit Bedi. “He motivated us a lot and made us believe in our talent. He didn’t want us to just participate. He pushed us to compete and that mindset changed us a lot,” he recollected.

Qayum took over from there. “Being an experienced cricketer himself, he has helped our bowlers a lot. He has a very good cricketing brain and keeps working with our bowlers to set up the batsmen,” Rasool said.

Among the lot, 25-year-old Mudhasir’s story stands out. One of the 10 players in the squad from Kashmir, Mudhasir played three matches last season before getting the biggest prize.

“Although I played only a few games the belief they showed in me was tremendous. I’m more responsible now and I want to contribute consistently. Rasool has shown us the way forward and Qayum has helped me to bowl in the right areas,” the pacer, who has 29 scalps to his name this season, added.

Did Rasool and Qayum predict such a remarkable turnaround? Rasool just replies with a smile.“Insha Allah, we are playing well. We don’t want to be carried away. Our goal is to reach the quarterfinal and then we will take it game by game. There is no real pressure on us.”

It is still early days, but Jammu and Kashmir are enjoying the view from the top of the mountain.


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