Seven players from Gujarat have been selected as part of the Indian Cricket team for Blind for the World Cup Tournament 2014 in South Africa to be held in November. Gujarat has the largest representation in the Indian team of 17. Interestingly, six out of the seven from the state are from Valsad. The Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) finished the process of selection of players last month at Tirupati. The upcoming World Cup will be played in Cape Town in South Africa between November 25-December 20.
Around 56 players from 18 different states of India took part in the selection drive and out of which 28 were selected. Among these selected players, the association has shortlisted 17 players for the Indian cricket team.
The visually impaired cricket players of Valsad are Ketan Patel (30), Hitesh Patel (27), Ganesh Gavit (31), Subhash Bhoya (28), Sanjay Dharavda (24) and Ganesh Maholkar (25). The seventh player, from Sabarkantha, has been identified as Vikash Patel (32).
The Blind Cricket Association of Gujarat chairman Vinod Patel said, “We are lucky that among 17 players, seven are representing Gujarat. Nine countries – Australia, England, West Indies, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, South Africa and Sri Lanka – will participate in this World Cup Tournament. Sixteen players from each team will play One-Day match of 40 overs. We are sure that our team will come out victorious and become the world champion again.”
Among these players, Ketan, Hitesh, Ganesh Subhash and Vikash had played the last two World Cups, while the remaining ones had played inter-state matches. Some of them had also played international matches. Sources said that all the seven players of Gujarat are farmers by profession.
Indian cricket team had won the last T20 World Cup played in Bangalore, defeating Pakistan by 29 runs. The Indian team made 258 runs in 20 overs while Pakistan made 229 runs with eight wickets and lost the match.
Talking to The Indian Express, Ketan Patel said, “We are proud to represent India in the upcoming World Cup Tournament. For the last ten years, we are playing cricket and we have got good experience and are consistently working hard during the practice sessions. We are not getting much publicity, like Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and other players. The state government is also not helping us financially. For travel expenses and other expenditures on kits and stay, Matrubhumi Trust of Kaprada taluka in Valsad district is helping us. We don’t have enough money to travel also. After we won last T20 World Cup, the chief minister of Karnataka Jagdish Settar had announced Rs 5 lakh for three players and a government job for the players of Karnataka. In Gujarat, we have got nothing. Even after winning the World Cup, when we arrived at Valsad railway station, there was nobody to welcome or felicitate us, only the Matrubhumi Trust members.”
A father of two, Ketan Patel further added, “We are confident that we will win the World Cup and will make ourselves and India proud.