Cricket

KARACHI: “The Pakistani team is not doing well but it doesn’t mean that they are weak or helpless,” Pakistan’s wheelchair cricket team captain Majid Dawar says.

Dawar, who led Pakistan to a 3-0 sweep of Nepal in the International Wheelchair Cricket Winter Cup Series held in Kathmandu, is hopeful Misbah-ul-Haq’s side can turn it around at the ongoing World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, with just a little bit of ‘will power and determination’.

“We wear the green shirt and they do too. There is no question about not supporting the Pakistan team at the World Cup,” Dawar says of Misbah’s embattled side.

Pakistan wheelchair cricket team players ahead of their T20 match against Nepal in Kathmandu — Photo  International Wheelchair Cricket Association

Pakistan wheelchair cricket team players ahead of their T20 match against Nepal in Kathmandu — Photo International Wheelchair Cricket Association

Pakistan went down to India by 76-runs in their opening game before suffering a 150-run humiliation at the hands of the West Indies.

And if ever Pakistan were looking inspiration, they wouldn’t find a more inspirational group of individuals. With limited resources and physical disability, it was sheer determination that put these cricketers on the path to glory in Nepal.

Founded in 2012 by Mohammad Zeeshan Taqi, the Pakistan Wheelchair Cricket Team is part of the International Wheelchair Cricket Association (IWCA), a non-profit association registered with the government of Sindh. IWCA has already organised four major tournaments in Pakistan and is hoping now for international recognition.

Pakistan wheelchair cricket team players celebrate victory after defeating Nepalese wheelchair cricket team (pictured in the background) in Kathmandu  Photo  International Wheelchair Cricket Association

Pakistan wheelchair cricket team players celebrate victory after defeating Nepalese wheelchair cricket team (pictured in the background) in Kathmandu Photo International Wheelchair Cricket Association

According to founding member and secretary Syed Arif Khursheed on IWCA’s website, the journey started in a small 8×8 room where a team of two people could fit in and play.

“From their we promised ourselves to look forward. We faced many barriers along the way but were able to achieve something for our wheelchair-bound sportsmen. Now IWCA is recognised nationally and internationally as well.”

The series in Nepal was a stepping stone for the Pakistan wheelchair team, and a bigger challenge awaits them in April when they will face off against India in India for a five-match series.

Pakistan wheelchair cricket team players discuss match strategy ahead of their T20 encounter against Nepal  Photo International Wheelchair Cricket Association

Pakistan wheelchair cricket team players discuss match strategy ahead of their T20 encounter against Nepal Photo International Wheelchair Cricket Association

But they are confident they can achieve success.

“Pakistan has the caliber and talent for the sport. We hope to promote the hidden talent of youth with disability from across the country,” Imran Shaikh, representative of Mahvash and Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation which provided the wheelchairs to the team for its Nepal series, says.

MSFJ would not only be sponsoring the India trip but is also organising a domestic competition which will feature teams from 12 cities across Pakistan.

Dawar and his team hope for recognition and support from the government and are confident they can bring more glory to Pakistan.

Pakistan and Nepal's wheelchair cricket teams in action in Kathmandu  Photo  International Wheelchair Cricket Association

Pakistan and Nepal’s wheelchair cricket teams in action in Kathmandu Photo International Wheelchair Cricket Association

But for now, Dawar has a word of advice for all Pakistanis dismayed by the country’s performance at the World Cup.

“At this stage it is necessary to support them. We should encourage them and we are with them all the way.”

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