Parvez Rasool dreams to play Test cricket for India, says 'IPL not that important'

Off-spinner Parvez Rasool remains the first and only cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir to play for India, but his last international appearance came in 2017 in a Twenty20 International against England.

J&K all-rounder Parvez Rasool at the IIT Chemplast Ground in Chennai.   -  WRIDDHAAYAN BHATTACHARYYA

The untimely retirement of the out-of-favour Ambati Rayudu is a cricket tragedy, but there are cricketers who still believe in their chances. Parvez Rasool is one. The Jammu and Kashmir cricket poster boy witnessed the ODI debut of four cricketers — Rayudu, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara — in his maiden tour [to Zimbabwe] six years ago, but he did not get a chance in the playing XI despite the fifth ODI being a dead rubber.

Drafted in the preliminary squad for the Trans-Tasman World Cup, the all-rounder made his debut against Bangladesh in 2014. He picked up two wickets and disappeared for three years.

The selectors remembered him next in 2017 for a T20I against England in Kanpur. Again, just one game to test his potential. Since then, he has been piling runs in the domestic season and testing himself in challenging conditions for another chance.

Sportstar caught up with the Kashmiri cricketer on the sidelines of TNCA Division I League at the Chemplast Ground in IIT Chennai. He was representing local club Grand Slam. 

Excerpts from the interview:

It is tough to frame you in this setting. There are barely five people watching this club game. What brings you here?

The J&K camp have not started and these club matches in Chennai are quite competitive. I thought it will be a good preparation for the upcoming domestic season as a lot of good cricketers come and play here. My plan is to do well in red-ball cricket so that I can play Test cricket for India.

How much has cricket changed in Kashmir since you started playing? Your popularity may have encouraged a lot of kids...

When I was picked for the Indian team, I thought our state will advance a bit in cricket but unfortunately, that did not happen then. Lately, there has been a change. There has been a lot of improvement in the last two years. Like you see here, there is a setup and there are club-level tournaments, we have started that in Jammu now. Last year, there was a league in every district and the selectors were sent to scout talents. A process was followed to select players through zones. We got good results in just one year. A lot of professionals are coming and joining us too.

That brings me to the Irfan Pathan question. How much of a boost was his presence in the J&K setup?

Irfan Pathan had a great impact on the youngsters. The boys who were coming for trials from districts, far away from Srinagar, wouldn’t have thought to get selected earlier. This year, one of our boys, Rasikh Salam, played in the IPL. All this is a result of one year after U-19 cricket.

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Parvez Rasool in action for India Red against India Blue in a 2018 Duleep Trophy match.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

But he was caught in an age discrepancy issue...

I don’t know the real story, I only read it in the papers. But he is still U-19. His date of birth is 2000 or 2001 I think. I don’t know how this happened but this is very unfortunate.

Do you still dream to play for India?

Since the last three years, I have performed consistently in Ranji Trophy. I have finished top all-rounder in the last season — 35 wickets and 684 runs. I keep trying. I got 11 wickets in two games in in Duleep Trophy. My aim is to do well and then, think of India.

Read: 'Bangladesh experience helped me a lot'

But these days, IPL is a benchmark to get an entry they say...

IPL is not that important for me. I am more concerned in the longer format but definitely, I am ready for it if it comes my way. But my dream is to get through to the Test team. I have played IPL for four years. I got very less opportunities. I feel if a cricketer is getting selected in that level, there should be enough opportunities for the person to let him express himself.

Even Omar Abdullah, the then chief-minister of J&K, had backed you on social media when you were not getting a game in your maiden tour in Zimbabwe...

When I was first picked for India, I had picked 33 wickets and scored 590-plus runs in that season. After that, here, I got seven wickets representing Board President XI against Australia.Then I went to Zimbabwe. Everybody in the 15-member squad got a game, except me. We had won that series. Being a Kashmiri, he [Abdullah] perhaps felt that I deserved a game.

How much has sports progressed amid the Indo-Pak tensions in Kashmir?

Sports is different from Indo-Pak tension. Recently, we started having day-night matches. Real Kashmir is doing well in football. If the government takes initiative to build infrastructure in the future and facilities, that may see a lot of new players come up the ranks because there is talent. Our players are in IPL and India, it is less in number [only two] but at least, we got noticed.

What is the plan for the upcoming season? How many youngsters do we expect to see in J&K?

There are a lot of junior players who were picked in the Jammu team. The environment and approach changed since the arrival of Irfan. If somebody performs well in the junior level, he will be picked. This is also a motivating factor for the seniors because you know that if you don’t perform, there is enough backup to replace you.

Since the World Cup is going on, who do you think can win the tournament?

From day one, I have been saying it is either India or England’s World Cup. They are the favourites.