BENGALURU : Viewing a game of cricket for visually impaired can be a real treat, as was seen at the T20 World Cup for the Blind final here on Sunday. The M Chinnaswamy Stadium saw about 15,000 spectators turning up for the clash between India and Pakistan.
At the end of the day, they left a happy lot as India won by nine wickets to clinch their second consective T20 title, and also their fourth world crown. Opening batsman Prakasha J (99 not out) and captain Ajay Kumar Reddy (43) led India to the triumph.
One may tend to think that visually challenged cricketers may not be that fast. But there appeared to be hardly any difference from a game of regular cricket. Despite having partial or no vision, the batsmen tried their shots — even the switch-hit and the Dilscoop — thus providing some thrilling moments.
Since the ball pitches twice before reaching the batsman, most of the strokes were sweeps, but there were occasions when the ball was lofted for a boundary or a six. It was amazing to see the batsmen getting that much lift when the delivery is so close to the ground.
While the batsmen provided entertainment, the fielding was no less exciting. They ran and dived for the ball, just like any fielder. There were even some acrobatic attempts near the ropes. “We are happy to have won the title on home ground. We had lost to Pakistan in the league stage but on Sunday, we focussed on forging partnerships,” said Prakasha.
“The final was not a big challenge, because 198 was achievable. We would have fielded had we won the toss. Luckily, Pakistan won the toss and batted, and that turned out to be crucial.”
Associated excitement notwithstanding, organising tournaments is a tough task. Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) president Mahantesh GK said: “These events can be organised only if one has the will, because we face so many problems. Sponsors are difficult to come by, but we manage. Our team is trying our best to make things better for players. We want to reach out to more people, and have more players and tournaments.”
Reddy underscored the need for more support. “Sponsorship is coming in slowly, but the need of the hour is jobs. Three of us work in banks, but many don’t have jobs. Some are from very humble backgrounds. It will be nice if the government helps us.”