New Delhi: Shekhar Naik is a man on a mission. His team of visually impaired cricketers are all set for their Pakistan series - the first time since 26/11 that any sports team from India will be playing in Pakistan. And they're very excited. Shekhar Naik Lachma said, "We believe India and Pak are one, we want to prove that."
Not only are Naik and his boys confident that they will return victorious, they're also certain their efforts will help the Indo-Pak peace process inch along. Especially now that the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers have brought about a thaw in relations.
Lachma added, "Our premier cricket teams play has been stalled, we are starting now and after we start I feel other sports will start too. People from both the nations will start visiting each other."
Here at the Bharat Nagar Cricket Academy in Delhi, Shekhar's boys, with the support of Bangalore NGO Samarthanam are hard at work. They have got no support from the centre - except for a promise from Rajya Sabha MP Oscar Fernandes that he will allot money from his MPLADS fund. But what's uniting this rag tag bunch is their passion.
CMO of the Indian Blind Cricket team Sam Naidu said, "With each passing day, with these boys I've seen the brilliance and the passion. Specially with the kind of backgrounds these boys come from. Touches you somewhere in your heart. When it comes to Pakistan, challenges are on a different scale."
Across the border Syed Sultan Shah, President of the Pakistan Blind Cricket Association and captain of Pakistan's first ever visually impaired cricket team is equally excited.
Shah said, "The aim of arranging the series is a message to the world and the governments of both nations that the public of India and Pakistan want relations to get better and brotherhood and friendship to increase."
The cricket series between the two visually impaired teams might be short on hype, but it's certainly long on hope - and could be a critical confidence building measure between the two nations that are only now beginning to push the peace process forward.