BENGALURU: What is striking about Shankar Sajjan, an 18-year old cricketer, is not the fact that the specially-abled person has both his palms almost perpendicular to his forearm at the wrist due to a chromosomal imbalance. It is rather his grit, determination and vigour that has helped him transform his disabilities into abilities, and a slight indignation towards anyone who feels he is not good enough to represent the Indian national cricket team.
With quite a few responsibilities on his young shoulders, Shankar hails from the Yalgi village from the parched Yadgir district in North Karnataka.
Though his family was not happy about him pursuing the cricketing dream, he said that he had to fight with his family members before coming to Bengaluru.
Being trained at the Brijesh Patel Cricket Academy(BPCA) in the city, his coach notes that Shankar is among the rare ones born with a gift to spin. He has only four fingers in his bowling arm and is an example of sheer dedication,he added.
Born in 1999, Shankar has no memory of his mother who passed away at a young age. Son of a farmer from the drought-hit rain-fed village in Yadgir, he has two siblings - an elder brother and a younger sister - both of who are in college.Although Sajjan wants to make cricket his career, he is also employed with a multi-national firm in a minor role in Bengaluru to subsist his and his struggling family’s income. At the same time, he is also trying to complete his graduation through distant education as he wasn’t able to attend college after PUC.
His first opportunity came in the form of veteran cricketer Anil Kumble’s Spin Hunt in 2015. “I was playing for a local club then. Of the 3,000 plus participants, only 21 were selected and I was the only with special abilities,” he recalled.Since then he is training at BPCA and is now currently playing in Karnataka State Cricket Academy’s fifth division.Praveen Kumar, his coach says that Shankar’s spinning ability is a god’s gift. “Not everyone can spin like him and consistently maintains his line. When it comes to batting, it is not easy to get rid of him even though he has some constraints and is a tail-ender,” he added.
‘DISABLED IS A PERSON WHO CAN’T DO HIS JOB’
Despite an almost assured place in the national cricket team of people with special abilities, Shankar wants to emulate his idol BS Chandrashekar by representing the Indian cricket team. “Coaches advised me to play for the specially-abled team. But, I can play with normal cricketers. A disabled person is the one who can’t do his own job. But, I can do everything,” he said, insisting that he would only attempt to play for the Indian national team.