Yes, a wheelchair cricket team exists for real and the Indian wheelchair cricket players have already left for Dhaka to play their first ever international series in Bangladesh – with a goal to wave the tricolour flag in Bangladesh with pride.
India has become a cricket epicentre lately – be it men’s cricket, be it women’s cricket, Indian teams have gained international attention and momentum lately, thanks to nation’s love for the game. Furthermore, there’s a special category of cricket team in India who are venturing out to recognise themselves on international level by playing their first game abroad – the Indian wheelchair cricket team. Yes, it exists and yes they play in their wheelchairs. The 14 Indian players from across the country have already left for Dhaka in Bangladesh, to play their first ever international cricket series from May 4 to May 8.
Currently, the team is hosted and sponsored by the Wheelchair Cricket India (WCI) which was founded by Pradeep Raj in 2011. However, the journey hasn’t been easy for the cricket team – just like the Paralympics athletes. The government, the national cricket bodies, sports ministry and the BCCI have not provided support to the team and there has been no response even after Raj had written a request for aid. Usually, the team of cricketers with disabilities lack basic facilities and infrastructure – while the country is busy with their eyes fixated on the IPL games.
Despite all the difficulties, the team has made it to participating in the international cricket series and hopes to follow the footsteps of para-athletes and gain recognition just like them. Currently, most people don’t even know that a thing like wheelchair cricket exists and a team of these athletes from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Maharashtra, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat exists. However, the team is not losing hope on success with proper efforts and doing their best in the tournament. The Indian wheelchair cricket team has high hopes from this tournament against Bangladesh and aims to set the Indian flag with pride in Dhaka.