Jammu & Kashmir Women cricketer Iqra Rasool keen to play for Bengal

Kolkata: Kashmir-born woman pace-bowler Iqra Rasool wants to play for Bengal and then represent India after getting a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association. The 17-year-old Rasool, who relocated to West Bengal after limited opportunities for women stood in the way of her ambitions, has represented Jammu & Kashmir at the U-19 and U-23 level. Iqra is now training at the indoor facilities of the Eden Gardens with permission from Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), the state’s parent body of the sport.

The NOC certificate, a copy of which is with IANS, has been signed by J&K cricket association General Secretary Iqbal Ahmad Shah. It cleared Iqra to play for any state association affiliated to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). “I want to play for India and that’s why when Aditya School of Sports contacted me I lapped up the opportunity,” Iqra told IANS on Wednesday. Iqra faced a lot of opposition initially when she started out. More than her parents, it was relatives and neighbours back in Kashmir who raised objection.

“I was asked ‘kyun khel rahi ho’ (why are you playing). I was looked at differently as I slowly became popular and TV channels started covering me,” the 5ft-8inch tall bowler said. “My father told me to leave my state after I finish my 12th standard,” Iqra, now a class XI student, added. It was three months back in May that Iqra came to West Bengal and joined Aditya School of Sports.

“We came to know about her from television. We have our scouts everywhere and they brought her here. Jhulan Goswami took her trials and she was accompanied by her parents,” a teacher of the school said without wanting to be named for administrative purposes. Abdul Monayem, one of Iqra’s two coaches, said the lanky bowler has raw pace and is extremely determined to don the India colours.

“She has good pace and is very serious about her cricket. If she is guided properly, she can play for India. She has the talent and the will. I have loved my stint so far in Bengal,” Iqra said.

“I want to play for my nation and before that represent Bengal at the domestic level as the facilities here are great. It’s not the same in Jammu & Kashmir,” she said.