We live in an era of sports leagues ranging from hockey to Kabaddi and from wrestling to badminton and cricket. The latest addition to this phenomenon was the three-day Wheelchair cricket league. Yes, you heard that right. It was organized to give disabled athletes (not blind cricketers) a chance to prove their mettle in an exciting league format.
Wheelchair Cricket League – A first of its kind in India
The three-day event, an initiative of the Para Sports Foundation, witnessed four teams — Delhi Sultans, UP Strikers, Chandigarh Lions, and South Warriors — competing for the top spot.
“This tournament will provide a platform to para-athletes to showcase their talent,” said Sarvesh Kumar Tiwari, president of the Para Sports Foundation.
For the participants, however, the tournament was not just a platform to display their talent, but also a way to “feel liberated”. “Wheelchair sports can serve as a way to change the perception of people who are paralysed,” said Neeraj Yadav (33), a para-athlete who played for Delhi Sultans.
Yadav lost the use of his legs when he was seven, when a spinal injury affected his nerves. He said he has participated in events at the national and international level, including the Paralympics, and has won medals.
“I used to lack confidence earlier, but sports instilled a sense of self-belief. I now live by the philosophy of haaro mat, haar ko haraao,” he said. However, the journey so far has been far from easy for the men.
“Wheelchair cricket is not for everyone, as the equipment is costly. Sports wheelchairs, for instance, are priced at about Rs 20,000, as opposed to a normal wheelchair that costs around Rs 5,000,” said Sandhu (27), who captained the Chandigarh Lions team.
“Now, with events such as this one, some people have finally started coming forward. But the government needs to take some initiative as well. A lot more needs to be done,” he said.
UP Strikers win the Wheelchair Cricket League
UP Strikers trounced Delhi Sultans by four runs to win Indian Wheelchair Cricket League 2018. The league concluded at Lancers International School in Gurugram.
After winning the toss, Delhi Sultans elected to bowl first.
UP Strikers put up a formidable score of 96 runs at a loss of five wickets. Batsman Anmol Vashisht put up a scintillating performance as he smashed 56 runs off just 59 balls. In response, Delhi Sultans were restricted to 92 runs in 16.3 overs.
Anmol Vashisht was adjudged `Man of the Match` as well as `Man of the Series` for his brilliant performance with the bat.
Reflecting on the win, Vashisht said, “It was a closely contested match in which we put up a good show and emerged as winners. I would like to thank Para Sports Foundation who conceptualized this novel concept. I hope the organization continues to strengthen its roots.”
Conceptualized on the lines of Indian Premier League (IPL), the tournament witnessed the clash of four teams namely Delhi Sultans, UP Strikers, Chandigarh Lions and South Warriors. The tournament is a brainchild of Para Sports Foundation.
The three-day tournament will now be followed by Asia Cup towards the end of 2018, which would demand participation of six countries.