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Visually impaired battle odds to play cricket


Mendra Dorjey, CNN-IBN
Dec 02, 2011 at 10:48am IST

New Delhi: In a cricket crazy nation like India, everyone wants to enjoy the game let alone play it. There is a group of young boys in the capital whose love for the sport hasn't got in the way of their physical disabilities.

This young bunch play a 4-team cricket tournament in the Capital. Most of these young cricketers are visually impaired and call the game 'blind cricket'.

Mohammad Salim, one of the 'blind cricket' players, said, "We don't think of us as any different from any other players while we are playing."

But as sport has always done, blind cricket transcends more than just the field of play.

Naresh Kumar, for instance, has been dealing with visual impairment since his teens. It was the gentleman's game that gave him refuge and helped him channelise his energies better.

"I didn't know I was blind, I got to know only later on. But I have been playing cricket ever since," said Naresh.

The rules of this game, 'blind cricket', are not much different from the original. Verbal signals are used before every delivery and the ball is a bit larger and filled with ball bearings for the players follow the sound.

Infact, their blindness is not an impediment. One of the players, Gopal, has less than 40 per cent vision but stands strong at silly point through the entire innings.

"Every time I hear the ball, I know I have to stop it," Gopal said.

It's not only on-field bonding during the day for these teammates. In the evenings, organisers hold discussions with the boys to know more about their dreams.

One of the organisers, George, said, "We use evenings to tell them about their future. What choices they have. Most don't know they have choices."

A few among this cricket crazy bunch are already aiming for the stars.

"I am the captain of my team. I want to play for India some day," said Mohammad.

Most of these young men have relied on others to help make their decisions most of their lives. So the feeling of complete freedom and emancipation that is visible on their faces when they are solely responsible for adding that extra boundary or picking that valuable wicket for their team - just makes tournaments completely worth organising.

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