World T20 for blind: India loses to arch-rival Pakistan

The players wore their hearts on their sleeves — fervently shouting out to each other to take the odd catch or stop the ball from hitting the boundary at New Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla ground.

While Pakistan's blind players enjoy the patronage of their national board, their Indian counterparts are yet to be recognised by the BCCI, the wealthiest board in the world.   -  special arrangement

The bowlers bowled underarm and the batsmen played only sweep shots but the highly charged atmosphere at the World T20 for the blind on Wednesday was otherwise typical of any contest between India and Pakistan.

The players wore their hearts on their sleeves — fervently shouting out to each other to take the odd catch or stop the ball from hitting the boundary at New Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla ground.

The white rattle ball barely rose up to their ankles but the Indian batsmen scored freely, much to the delight of the mostly blind spectators who followed the ball-by-ball commentary via loudspeaker.

But their joy proved shortlived as the host lost the group stage match by seven wickets despite making a competitive 240 for 4 off 20 overs after opting to bat first.

Showdowns between India's and Pakistan's national cricketers usually draw hundreds of millions of television viewers, making it the biggest box office attraction in the sport.

But diplomatic tensions have meant that the two teams have not played any bilateral series for nearly four years and their rivalry is therefore restricted to multi-national tournaments.

"The fact that you are playing in India at a time when the situation is tense and the national teams are not engaging bilaterally makes this tournament special," said Syed Sultan Shah, chairman of the Pakistan Blind Cricket Council.

"Blind cricketers are sending out a message to the entire world that it is important to engage in sporting activities if you have to promote peace and brotherhood," said Shah who is visually impaired himself.

While Pakistan's blind players enjoy the patronage of their national board, their Indian counterparts are yet to be recognised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the wealthiest such body in the world.

This was the one grouse Indian captain Ajay Reddy had as he watched his wards take a sharp single just as the ball raced towards the boundary, brought closer by almost 25 yards.

"Pakistan players come under the aegis of Pakistan Cricket Board. They are giving salaries to the players but we not getting anything," Reddy told AFP.

"If our financial issues get solved, we will be able to perform even better. We are only playing because we love cricket and we have a lot of passion for the game even though we are blind."

The final will be in Bengaluru on February 12.

Other results:

Sri Lanka CAB: 281/2 in 20 overs (Ruwan Wasantha 16, Suranga Sampath 116 n.o., Kavidu Sahan Kumara Thoma Dura 2, Chandana Deshapriya 108 n.o., Gregory Lee Stewart 1-31) bt West Indies WICCB: 151/8 in 20 overs (LO-Shane Omar Myles 12, Caneel Wayney Graham 10, Leroy Orin Phillips 44, Kevin Andrew Douglas 20, Gregory Lee Stewart 11, Anthony Fitzgerald Cummins 16, KCI Jonathan D Ward Ryan 7, Carl Steven Sobers 3, Alvin Andre James 9 n.o., Jason Vivian Ricketts 2 n.o., Upul Sanjeeva Kankanam Gamage 1-22, Dinesh Maduwantha Herath Sekage 2-20, Suranga Sampath 1-20, Pathum Saman Kumara 1-38, Dimuthu Ravindra 1-37)

Bangladesh BBCC: 203/2 in 20 overs (Md Abdul Malek 83, Md Mohsin Hosen Joy 88 n.o., Tanzjlur Rahman 0, Md Mahnud Rashid 8 n.o.,) bt Nepal CAB: 144/8 in 20 overs (Padam Bahadur Badaila 0, Lok Bahadur Thapa 7, Abdul Jahid Fakir 0, Kritan Shrestha Duwal 55 n.o., Sunil Subedi Chhetri 16, Sunil Thapa Magar 2, Sovaram Dangi 4, Bikram Bahadur Rana 0, Ramesh Bahadur Baniya 18, Sunil Rana Magar 6 n.o., Abdullah Zobir 1-9, Tanzjlur Rahman 2-37, Md Faisal 2-29)

New Zealand Blindcaps: 128/9 in 20 overs (MLK McCaskill 4, JH Dunn 35, RIMTR Smith 0, BD Wilson 4, Deacun Dunn 11, GC Williamson 5, E Faapusa 3, DB McCaskill 0, SJ Donnelly 8, MA Marsh 2 ) lost to England BCEW: 129/2 in 8.2 overs (Nathaniel Gerard Foy 28, Daniel Alfred Field 7, Matthew James Page 38 n.o., Luke Jason Smith Sugg 30 n.o., Deacun Dunn 2-68)

South Africa SABC: 174/10 in 19.3 overs (Dominic Scott Adrians 15, Buhle Bhidla 4, Johan Schroeder 16, Gaolatlwe David Landry 4, Hnery Tiishetjo Masha 23, Kenneth Nkokoto Nhlanhla Mabela 40, Sonwabile Bidla 24, Marco van der Linde 4, Sergil January 8, Israel Jacques Hattingh 2, Doctor Wiilliam Malinga 2 n.o., Lindsay David Heaven 1-34, Raymond Stephen Sutton Moxly 3-28, Mark Ashik Haskett 1-30, Vaughan James Role 1-28) lost to Australia BCA:175/3 in 15.4 overs (Matthew James Cameron 15, Stephen Leo Palmer 79, Brandan Lee Young Spencer 0, Lindsay David Heaven 47 n.o., Ned Adam Charles Brewer Maiga 6 n.o., Israel Jacques Hattingh 1-35, Doctor Wiilliam Maling 2-50)

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