Bhimabhai Khunti, vice-captain of wheelchair cricket team of India, is leaving for Kuala Lumpur with his teammates on October 19 to take on their Pakistan counterpart in an international match. The first T-20 series for wheelchair cricket is beginning on October 20.
Khunti is only wheelchair cricketer from the state to have been selected for the world event. With him will be leaving manager of Indian contingent Jyoti Shah along with other team members from Chennai.
“We have been preparing for this series for the past two years, but unfortunately, we could not impress upon the government or private sponsors for this tourney,” said Shah. She is presently working with Dena Bank here but Khunti remains unemployed. “My worry is that he should earn recognition out of this game and get enough attention of the authorities to get a job either under the handicapped quota or the sport quota,” she said.
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Except for the Malaysian Cricket Association giving its ground for free to play, the Indian team is yet to get any sponsorship, she says. Earlier the game was scheduled to be played in Lahore but due to certain circumstances, it could not be materialised, according to Shah, who sees no hitch this time. The next tourney is Asia cup match, which will be played in 2017, she said.
Khunti, 33, is married with a two-month-old daughter and had migrated from Beran village in Porbandar taluka to Porbandar town for work, where he practised cricket with standing cricketers (not bound to wheelchair) at the Duleep Cricket Ground while he did odd jobs as data entry operator.
Their hopes are pinned on the outcome of the match, which they are sure to win, for a bright future. “We formed a Gujarat team, and after return from Malaysia, our main focus will be on formation of a team of Ahmedabad-based players,” says Shah, herself wheelchair bound since childhood.