J & K’s symbol of hope

The right boost… Parveez Rasool is congratulated by his Board President’s XI team-mates after claiming seven wickets against the touring Australian team in a warm-up match in Chennai earlier this year.-V. GANESH

For Parveez Rasool, earning a place in the Indian team for the tour of Zimbabwe is a big achievement. Hailing from a State where sport is not a priority meant that he had to work harder and a lot more. By Vijay Lokapally.

An off-spinner with a clean action. India’s legendary left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi was very impressed on seeing him at the Jammu and Kashmir ‘nets’. Parveez Rasool, 24, is not just another off-spinner, wanting to bowl the ‘doosra’ and looking to restrict the batsmen like most modern-day slow bowlers. He is different.

Whenever he talked about spinners in India, Bedi never failed to mention Rasool for his traditional style of bowling. The youngster has been around for four years now, waiting to make an impression on the National selectors. Playing for J & K meant he had to work harder and a lot more.

In the troubled state, cricket is not a priority, certainly not for an association that has failed miserably to provide the basic facilities to young aspirants. Besides, J & K does not have a league to pick players for its state team. Despite such a scenario, Rasool rose to become the role model for a generation of cricketers. Two decades ago, Abdul Qayoom, a strapping fast bowler, and recently Abid Nabi, made news with their talent. Qayoom was unfortunate to have missed the bus, while Nabi lacked consistency.

For Rasool, coming into contact with Bedi was the turning point of his career. The former India captain told him to follow two things: to stick to his style, action and approach, and aim to play in the highest league. “He is a wonderful lad. I am very impressed with his action. Clean. He is India material,” Bedi had raved on returning from Srinagar after holding a pre-season camp two years ago.

Rasool at the nets.-PTI

Rasool’s first significant break came when he made his first-class debut in 2008. But if it has taken him five years to gain National recognition, the fault lay with the state association’s lackadaisical attitude. Observing players from other states helped Rasool grow into a competitive bowler and soon he caught the attention of some big names in the zone.

His tally of 33 wickets in the Ranji Trophy in the 2012-13 season at an average of 18.09 was the launching pad for Rasool. He also aggregated 594 runs with 171 against Goa being his highest.

An introvert and highly disciplined, Rasool faithfully followed the instructions of Bedi and his mentor Qayoom. “It means a lot to the youngsters of J & K. Parveez has shown the way and I am proud of his achievement. We always knew he was gifted and it was his hard work that has brought him recognition at the right time,” noted Qayoom.

Rasool’s work ethic, his humility and his ability to learn quickly enabled him to make an impression on South African great Allan Donald, the coach of Pune Warriors. The ease with which Rasool learnt his lessons clearly reflected the off-spinner’s determination. The seven-wicket haul against Australia in a warm-up match in Chennai earlier this year was just the motivation Rasool needed.

A place in the Indian team for the tour of Zimbabwe is the first big step in Rasool’s journey. With support from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he is looking forward to serving the Indian team for a long time.