Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) on Monday accorded a rousing reception to the state's cricket team, which qualified for the knockout stage of the Ranji Trophy after a gap of more than 10 years.
The team was given a warm welcome on their arrival at the JKCA headquarters here and were received by treasurer Manzoor Ahmad Wazir, chairman Selection Committee A Rauf and senior working committee members.
Placed in Group C, the state team, which last qualified for the knockout stage in 2001-02 season, notched up four outright wins in the league round to pip Goa by .001 points on net run rate for a berth in the quarterfinals.
"The team played very well and they have made us proud. I congratulate them," Wazir told reporters.
He said this has been the finest season in the cricketing history of the state and people have started "acknowledging our talent" and the "success has strengthened our belief that there is a lot of talent in our state".
"We have to create conditions for competitive cricket at every level so that we can compete at any level," he said. Urging the cricketers to remain apolitical, Wazir said, "there is no place for politics in cricket. The players should focus on the sport only."
About the failure of the team to reach the semi-final of the tournament, Wazir said, "Failing to qualify for the semi-final stage is a small thing. We played really well and our days ahead are bright." Pacer Samiullah Beigh said that the team played consistently well and that created a good atmosphere.
"We are looking forward to playing much better. It feels good that people have started recognising us now," he said. The JKCA applauded the selection process and said it was done without regional considerations.
The association said it would soon organise a function to give awards to the cricketers.
"The awards at the function will be given by JKCA president Farooq Abdullah. The date for the function will be notified shortly," the association said.