Leading Jammu and Kashmir to the knockout stages of the Ranji Trophy 2013-14 for the first time since 2000, skipper Pervez Rasool expressed his delight at the achievement. For a team that hasn't progressed beyond the Plate stage in the last 50 years, this qualification comes as a massive boost. Rasool echoed similar sentiments when he told ESPNcricinfo, "This is a big, big thing for Jammu & Kashmir cricket. The whole region, I think, must be very happy that the team has qualified for the knockouts."
Rasool & Co. had to endure a few anxious moments before eventually qualifying just ahead of Goa. After Goa had beaten Andhra on January 1, the pressure was on Jammu and Kashmir to either win or at least gain a first innings lead in their match against Tripura in Agartala, in order to finish second behind Maharashtra and just ahead of Goa.
"I was worried about what exactly was needed. We had to work out the calculations because of Goa winning outright. We bowled very well in the match, because we had to make sure that we got Tripura out to get some points from the game. Without the bowling, it would have been hard," Rasool, his state's only international cricketer, said.
Rasool lead his side from the front and went on to register his first fifer of the season, ending with figures of 7 for 87. This came after Jammu and Kashmir had taken the all-important first-innings lead of 45 runs.
"This was the first time I got some turn from the pitch. In all the matches that we have played till now, I didn't get much help. The fast bowlers, however, were bowling well throughout the season. Till last year, there were only one or two boys who used to perform, but this year, everyone is chipping in. There is unity in this team," Rasool said.