A 100 physically challenged men from five South Indian States are in Visakhapatnam from December 9 till December 13 to play the `Differently Abled’ Wheelchair South India Cricket Tournament organised by the Andhra Pradesh Wheelchair Disabled Cricket Association (APWCDCA) and the Telugu Association of North America (TANA).
Around 20 players from each State came here to play seven matches at the GITAM University Cricket Ground in Rushikonda. Players from the Wheelchair Cricket Association of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh Wheelchair Cricket Association, Board of Wheelchair Cricket Association of Karnataka, Telangana Wheelchair Cricket Team and Association, and Physically Challenged All Sports Association of Kerala are in the city to play the matches
The players do every bit of the game while sitting in their respective wheelchairs. Be it a perfect pull shot or diving boundary stop at the ropes. They greet each other by forming a circle every five overs in a 20-over match.
Speaking to The Hindu, 35-year-old spin bowler M. Raja Shekhar, a resident of Visalakshingar in Visakhapatnam, said, “I bowled three overs and gave 13 runs in the match between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu on the first day. I am a huge fan of ace cricketer Anil Kumble. I thank everyone for recognising us and our desire to play cricket at professional cricket grounds.”
APWCDCA general secretary S.R. Subbarao said that physically-challenged cricket match was started for the first time in Telugu States in 2018 and a match was organised between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Mr. Rao was not physically challenged from birth, but fate struck him on July 3, 2012 when he met with an accident while travelling from Visakhapatnam to Narsipatnam at Thallapalem near Anakapalli.
“I fully understand the mental state of people who are challenged after I became one among them due to the car accident. We are conducting this tournament after obtaining permission from authorised organisations like the Differently-Abled Cricket Council of India. This year we have had tremendous support from TANA,” Mr. Rao added.
The TANA Sports Coordinator Shashank Yarlagadda, who flew to Vizag from Mississippi in the US to organise this match, told The Hindu that the TANA organises and sponsors many events, but this one has given them a lot of satisfaction.
“People watch cricket matches between film stars and real cricket matches etc. So we want to create some trend by involving the differently-abled persons from the south Indian States in cricket match as well. The government should also come out with such programmes,” Mr. Shashank said.
Samuel Benjamin, one of the organising members, said, “The players should be encouraged. For this, at least for the final match on December 13, a crowd from the GITAM university or from outside the city is needed around the ground. It will boost their spirit.”
Karnataka players won the match between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu team on Saturday.
December 11 – Karnataka vs A.P/ and Telangana vs Tamil Nadu
December 12 – Karnataka vs Telangana
December 13- Finals
In Saturday’s match
Karnataka won by 7 wickets over Tamil Nadu
Andhra Pradesh won by 9 wickets over Telangana.