In the current hostile environment, it is difficult to envisage any Pakistan team travelling to India to play in any sporting contest. At the moment, Pakistan’s participation in the forthcoming junior hockey World Cup in Lucknow, which will be held from December 8 to 18, isn’t guaranteed. The organisers of the second T20 World Cup for the blind, which will be staged in eight cities in India from January 28 to February 12 next year, are, however, confident that the team from across the border will indeed feature in the tournament.
“We’d like to see the Pakistan team play here. We hope that the situation improves by then,” said Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) president Mahantesh GK here on Wednesday, after former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar released the fixtures of the tournament, which will involve ten teams and conclude in Bangalore.
The CABI has claimed that they would need to raise Rs 24.5 crores to host the tournament. It is even e-auctioning the special white balls used in blind cricket for Rs 500. Offering some much-needed help, Vengsarkar said that the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), of which he is currently the Vice-President, was willing to arrange iconic grounds in South Mumbai (the Brabourne and Wankhede Stadium) for the event.
“The MCA will be happy to host all the India matches. We have four grounds (where matches can be played) in South Mumbai. It will be a small contribution (to cricket for the blind) from all of us,” Vengsarkar stated.
Mahantesh added: “I also spoke to Anurag Thakur (the Board of Control for Cricket in India president), and asked the BCCI to help us by providing their stadiums for the event. His response was very positive.”The Pakistan team, of course wouldn’t travel to Mumbai. “They’d land in the capital, play a few of their matches there, and then rest in Bangalore,” Mahantesh informed.
Apart from India and Pakistan, the other teams who would be in action are England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. Delhi, Mumbai, Faridabad, Gujarat, Kochi, Bhubaneswar, Andhra Pradesh and Bengaluru will be the host cities for the event. Earlier this month, batting great Rahul Dravid, who is currently the India Under-19 and ‘A’ team coach, was announced as the brand ambassador of the World Cup.Vengsarkar lauded the spirit of the visually impaired cricketers. “Four to five years ago, I was the chief guest at the national championship for the blind in Lucknow.
It was a great experience for me. I bat ted normally against one ball and then batted against the second with my eye blindfolded and I found it difficult to connect. I had seen fielders dive here and there and taking brilliant catches. It was amazing to see,” said the 116-Test veteran.