His dreams took flight amid gunfire and bloodshed but Parveez Rasool, the first cricketer from the valley to be picked for the India A team, was so enamoured by the 22-yard strip that he can’t remember the violence that scarred the beauty of Kashmir.
The 23-year-old all-rounder appeared for in a practice match against England XI on Sunday, completing a full circle that for the youngster who was detained by Bangalore police for questioning in 2009 in connection with suspected presence of explosives at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. He was given a clean chit a few days later.
“It was a not a great thing to happen, whether by any mistake or an error in the machine or whatever…I didn’t spend too much time thinking over it,” Rasool said here.
He is now grappling with a different kind of fame — one that comes with bowling to the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell for someone who hails from Bijbehara in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district, once considered a hot-bed of militancy.
“Last few days have been out of this world. It is an amazing feeling. My phone has been bombarded with congratulatory messages and people want to know about me. All this seems so surreal,” said Rasool, who conceded 16 runs in his three overs in a winning cause against England XI.
Asked if the sound of bullets ever distracted him, the all-rounder came up with a curt no. “I don’t even remember. My focus has always been on cricket,” said Rasool, who earlier had a chance to hone his skills alongside India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Rasool was summoned by the Indian team management to bowl to the likes of Dhoni and Virat Kohli ahead of the side’s third and final ODI against Pakistan on Sunday, an experie4nce he cherishes. “It was a great feeling. I can’t express it in words. I bowled at Dhoni and he offered me some tips also. Sharing the Indian team’s dressing room and being their part…It was certainly one of those days which I won’t forget throughout my life.
“Being in that team bus… it really was amazing,” said the off-spinner, who bagged 33 wickets in the Ranji Trophy this season. Rasool also amassed 594 runs from seven matches at a healthy average of 54 runs per innings.
“I have seen him before. He has the talent but the thing is that you need to transform that talent into performance against a quality side,” India A coach Lalchand Rajput, said.
The youngster, though, is confident that it is just the beginning of a journey. “Like any other cricketer, I too want to play for India. I know I have to be much more consistent and need to work much harder. But I am sure that if I play well, I can make it big,” a confident Rasool said.
Coming from a family of cricketers, motivation was never lacking for the talented cricketer, but the lack of infrastructure in the state worries him.
“We don’t have enough facilities. There are only two turf wickets in valley, one at the Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium and the other one at Kashmir University in Srinagar. Apart from this, we have one turf wicket in Jammu. I hope (Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association) JKCA will look into this matter,” he said.
He thanked his childhood coaches Abdul Qayoom, once a poster boy of J&K cricket, and Rajesh Dhar for his success. He also stated that former India captain Bishen Sigh Bedi had a huge role in his selection for the A team.
Rasool tried to underplay the recent fallout between some of the valley’s cricketers and Bedi, calling it a misunderstanding. “It was nothing major. There was some misunderstanding between players and coach which has been sorted out,” he said.