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India thumped Pakistan by nine wickets to comfortably defend their T20 Blind Cricket World Cup title on Sunday. Set to chase 198, India gunned down the modest total and lost just one wicket in the process. Captain Ajay Kumar Reddy led from the front and stitched a match-winning partnership of 110 runs with opener Prakash Jayaramaiah.
The Indian unit enjoyed a good campaign and lost just one game, the group game against Pakistan, in the World Cup. The only loss in the group stages didn’t affect the team morale, and skipper Reddy, in an interaction with indianexpress.com, said, “I was confident that my team would be able to pull this victory off. We did it in 2012 and I think this gave us a psychological edge over them. A loss in the group stage served us a wake up call as were trying different combinations and actually got us to execute our plans better in the finals.”
Ajay, who scored a crucial 43 in the final, is not basking in the glory of success yet. “I have enjoyed leading my team to this success but my job is not over”. He said that despite his team’s achievements so far, many of his teammates do not have a proper job and are continuing to struggle with their daily life. “Without a proper job it is difficult to manage playing. Though sponsorship’s have come up in the recent past we are expecting that the BCCI and the government look at our plight. Our boys are giving in so much but in return are not getting any recognition. It is time that they sort things out.”
While wishes poured in from several sections of the society, Ajay said that tweets like Virender Sehwag’s, where the former India cricketer deemed the blind cricket team as ‘other men in blue’, do not serve as a good example. “We wear the same blue jersey, represent the same tri-colour and play with equal pride and passion then why term us as ‘other’? It is appreciable that he congratulated us but then we are no others”, he said and added, “We too are the men in blue”.
Meanwhile, opener Prakash Jayaramaiah who top scored for India with an unbeaten 99, and was also the man of the match, said that playing against Pakistan always tend to bring out the best in him. “I have always thought about scoring big when the opponents are Pakistan. This occasion brings out a little bit extra in me and I use all my abilities to score more.” However, not scoring a century in the final does not really matter for him as he contributed to the win.
Talking about his skills with the willow, 36-year-old Jayaramaiah said, “Since 2010, when I joined the Indian team, I have always tried to play down the ground. It is my favorite area and I use my senses to hit the ball straight and not blindly hoick the ball. I try to get in and plan my innings according to the situation of the match. However, if the situation demands I do play attacking shots.” His innings of 99 against Pakistan was a testament of that as he played aggressively. Jayaramaiah also rates this as one of his best of his innings for team India. For now he is happy with the win and is looking forward to the next tournament in 2018.