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Despite the circumstances in a volatile district like Anantnag, Wasim struggles to put in the hard yards on the field.

Among the many delighted faces of India‘s physically disabled cricket team that gathered at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA) BKC Academy on Friday to receive awards after winning the inaugural T20 Physical Disability World Cricket Series in England last month, is Wasim Iqbal Khan.

A leg surgery gone wrong in his childhood left him with a lifelong problem in his right leg.

The 26-year-old opener from the Gopalpora area of Kashmir’s Anantnag district is the only member in his family to have opted for a career in sports but Wasim, who smashed a match-winning 43-ball 69 in India’s win over Pakistan during the World Series, has no regrets with his decision.

“My father Mohammad Yousuf Khan and uncle used to play cricket, so that inspired me. Both my elder brothers are advocates, but I always wanted to play cricket,” Wasim, who sustained a leg injury when he was just nine, tells CricketCountry after the team was felicitated by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Wasim Iqbal Khan, India, India physically disabled team, World Cricket Series, physically disabled team
Wasim Iqbal after being felicitated by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari in Mumbai. Noel D’Souza

Hailing from Kashmir, Wasim recalled how the current situation, after scrapping Article 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, has affected cricket in the state. “There are no matches and whatever little tournaments that were taking place too have been shut,” the 26-year-old informed.

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“It has affected my game as well, I really struggle hard to practice because there is nobody around. I don’t have much money to spend on my game. I just try and practice with whoever I get to play. I call some boys and ask them to bowl to me. It’s been 8 years now since the local tournaments have been stopped,” he said.

However, as youngsters of his age opt for a different path, the electrical engineering graduate, now pursuing a degree in Arts and who also helps his parents run the family’s apple orchard, is determined to make it big in cricket.

Wasim Iqbal Khan, India, India physically disabled team, World Cricket Series, physically disabled team
Wasim’s award. Noel D’Souza

He owes his recent success to local star Parvez Razool, who has played one ODI and a Twenty20 International for India.

“Parvez Rasool bhai and I live in the same district. I have taken plenty of tips from him and he has supported me a lot. Rasikh Salim (who played for Mumbai Indians this year), like my little brother, has also played with me. We live just about 10-12 kms away from each other, so we get to play often,” Wasim, who also plays for the local club Khan Sultans, mentored by Rasool, said.

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Wasimm is a bit concerned about his future as a cricketer but believes the latest news about BCCI honouring the disabled players will be a huge boost. “I am doubtful about our future, but today’s acknowledgement by BCCI and the government of India is a step in the right direction, so let’s hope for the best. Nitin Gadkari saab has asked us to keep performing and they will support us, so Inshaallah, I will keep performing,” he said.

He might be passionate about cricket but as far as financial security goes, Wasim hopes to land a government job. “I’ve got a lot of offers from private companies, but if I get a government job, it will be the best. Minister saab has assured us, so the dream is to excel wherever I am,” he said.