A 15-member team of blind cricketers from India is going to Pakistan to play three T20 matches and three one-day internationals (ODIs) against the arch-rivals from Saturday.
"This is the third time the Indian blind team is going to Pakistan for the bilateral series and hope to register our first win as we lost in the previous two tournaments played in 2004 and 2011," Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) manager Endal John David told IANS from Amritsar on Thursday. The team will cross through the Attari-Wagah border post.
India will play the three T20 ties in Lahore and Faisalabad and all the three ODIs in Karachi during their 10-day trip.
India is the T20 World Cup for the Blind champion after beating Pakistan in the final on December 13, 2012 here.
Organised by CABI in association with the Bangalore-based Samarthanam Trust for the disabled, the squad has players from nine states across the country - four from Gujarat, two each from Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Odisha and one each from Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
The players are classified into three categories - totally blind (B1), partially blind (B2) and with partial vision (B3). The playing team comprises four B1, three B2 and four B3 members, while wicketkeeper belongs to the B3 category.
The lone player from Karnataka -- Lachma Shekar Naik (B3) is the captain and Ajaykumar Reddy (B2) from Andhra Pradesh is vice-captain while Majhi Sukhram from Odisha is wicketkeeper.
"They never ask for the sight-screen to be shifted. In fact, they do not need a sight-screen. They can only hear the ball, strokes and excited shrieks and shouts of their teammates," said coach Joseph Patrick Rajkumar.
Interestingly, lighting in a day-night game means little to the players of both teams as the umpire is the only one who sees the game.
"As cricket is an obsession in the sub-continent, the blind are no exception to the game, especially in the shorter version," David asserted.
Besides the central and state governments, the team got support from the Sports Auhtority of India and corporates from across the country.
"We hope the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which is the game's richest body, will consider granting affiliation to our association as we are striving to promote the sport with other cricket-playing countries among the visually impaired," said CABI president Nagesh.
"We are going to Pakistan as World Cup champions with confidence high and sound fitness. We are looking forward to an exciting series and hope to win this time," Naik observed.
The team members had a 10-day rigourous practice session in Bangalore since Feb 4 under the guidance of Patrick (coach) for the series.
Other members of the team are Pooniya Hanuman (B3) from Rajasthan, Karuppu Ramesh (B3), Tamil Nadu, Deepak (B3) and Satbir Singh (B1) both from Haryana, Ganeshbhai Rupabhai (B3), Patel Ketanbhai Babubhai (B1), and Subash Soniyabhai (B1), all three from Gujarat, D. Venkateshwara Rao (B2), AP, Wagh Swapanil Dilip (B2), Maharashtra, Iqbal Mohammed Jafar (B1), Odisha and Kuttan Anish (B1), Kerala.