Indian wheelchair cricket team will play a bilateral series against Bangladesh from 4th May to 8th May. Wheelchair Cricket India(WCI), has 16 state teams and it was founded by international para-athlete and national awardee Pradeep Raj in 2011. He did so after a visit to Korea where he met wheelchair Cricket delegation from neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Raj believes that this game will also gain popularity just like para-Olympics.
Vice-captain Abhai Pratap, 38, was a squadron leader with IAF. He was paralyzed waist-down after a road accident in 2009, Abhai was confined to his hospital bed for two years but he feels wheelchair Cricket has given him a second chance at life. He said, “From flying Mig-27 to being in a wheelchair, it was a difficult journey. But now, with Wheelchair Cricket India, we have a chance to explore the world once again”.
Raj stated the lack of infrastructure and support from the government, as well as from national and international cricket bodies. Raj has written to the BCCI several times but it has been a futile endeavour.
“The only person who wrote back was Sachin Tendulkar, who had words of encouragement for the team”, added Raj.
The national team captain, Somjeet Singh is a 21-year-old from Lucknow, who started playing cricket three years ago for rehabilitation purposes. Somjeet was born with a spinal tumour and has always used a wheelchair to facilitate his movements.
The efforts of Raj and the association saw the creation of Asian Wheelchair Cricket Council (AWCC), with Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, and India as its members. It was decided at the first meeting that India would host the first wheelchair Cricket Asia Cup in October 2018. The first meeting was held on November, 4th, 2017.
The vice-president of the WCI, Rabindra explained the selection process of the players :
“The national team was selected at a three-day camp at DPS Tothakothito held from March 23-25. We zeroed in on exceptional talent with the help of Ranjit trophy player and WCI coach Ankush At try, who has been associated with us for the last two years”. – Dutta.
We had earlier covered some unknown facts about India playing Pakistan in the Blind Cricket World Cup. It is indeed a matter of pride for the Nation that our sportsmen and sportswomen are scaling such great heights.