Pune: Visually challenged cricketers put their best foot forward

Pune’s Amol Karche contributed 32 of the 190 runs in 20 overs for the Maharashtra team, in a match against the Madhya Pradesh team.

Written by Garima Rakesh Mishra | Pune | Published:October 20, 2016 2:58 am
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Anyone who has a little knowledge about cricket for the visually challenged would know that for players of the B1 category (those who are completely blind), scoring every single run is a big achievement as compared to the players of B2 and B3 categories (those who can see up to three metres and six metres respectively). No wonder every run scored by the players of B1 category is doubled when it’s counted for the team.

At the West Zone Cricket Tournament organised by Samarthanam Trust in association with the Cricket Association for the Blind of Maharashtra at PYC Hindu Gymkhana and Deccan Gymkhana, Pune’s Amol Karche contributed 32 of the 190 runs in 20 overs for the Maharashtra team, in a match against the Madhya Pradesh team held on Tuesday.

While he took two wickets against the Madhya Pradesh team, he contributed 24 runs in the match against Gujarat held on Wednesday. Karche has represented the country in the 2014 T20 as well as 2006 and 2012 ODI World Cups for the blind, that were all won by India.

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Dnyaneshwar Hande, coach of the Maharashtra team, said, “The B1 category players bat while their eyes are covered with a black cloth.

Since they are completely blind, they just follow the sound of the ball and bat accordingly. It is quite an achievement every time they score a run. The good part is that the team benefits from a good B1 player. For instance, when a B2/B3 category player scores 10 runs, the team’s total score will go up by 10 runs, whereas when a B1 category player will score 10 runs, the team’s total score will go up by 20 runs.”

Hande himself is partially blind and has also represented India in the 2002 World Cup for the blind, which was played against England. He works as a ward boy at the HV Desai Eye Hospital, Hadapsar, which is run by the Poona Blind Men’s Association. A cricket team of the visually challenged comprises four B1 category players, three B2 category players and four B3 category players. One extra player in each category is kept as a back-up. The wicket keeper is always from the B2 or B3 category.

“B3 category players have to work the hardest because when it comes to running between the wickets, they have to fill in for B1 and B2 category players also. Thus, they end up running not only for themselves but for others too,” says Hande.

There are other players also in the team who have been performing exceptionally well on the ground. For instance, city-based Swapnil Wagh, who is a better bowler than a batsman, took two wickets each against Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. In the match against Rajasthan on Wednesday, he took two wickets in one over. A B2 category player, 25-year-old Wagh says, “I have been playing cricket since the time I was in school. My all-time favourite cricket player is Sachin Tendulkar.”

Wagh represented the country in 2014 in the ODI and T20 series. Likewise, Sandesh Ghuge, a B2 category player who hails from Nanded, is good at batting and scored 53 runs in 40 balls on Tuesday. Dilip Munde, captain of the team, represented the country in the 2014 T20 as well as 2006 and 2012 ODI World Cup for the blind.

Munde has represented the state six times so far. “He (Dilip) is an all-rounder. Generally, he is the opener but depending upon the situation of the match, I keep changing his position. In the match against Rajasthan, he scored 40 runs in 30 balls and took two wickets in two overs. The Maharashtra team defeated the Rajasthan team on Wednesday and will now play against the Gujarat team in the finals today,” said Hande.