The last four days had been tense for Parvez Rasool. His team, Jammu & Kashmir, after a good run in the season, still needed maximum points from their last Ranji Trophy game against Tripura, if they were to enter quarterfinals.
Adding to his worry was the bad weather that had led to loss of few hours of play. In another match, their competitor Goa was racing towards an outright win.
Taking the critical situation in his stride, Rasool delivered a massive all-round performance — a crucial 83 saw them chase the Tripura’s first innings total of 280. He followed it up with a seven-wicket haul in the second innings. J&K did not win the game, but earned a better quotient than Goa, which defeated Andhra by eight wickets, saw them through to the last eight.
Tied at 28 points, J&K finished with quotient of 1.006 compared to Goa’s 1.005. It is for the first time ever that J&K has made it to Ranji Trophy quarters. Their last best performance was an entry in the pre-quarterfinals in 2000.
“It is a very big achievement for us to reach the quarterfinals of biggest domestic cricket tournament in India. More so because we have made it despite lack of facilities and infrastructure,” Rasool told dna from Agartala.
Rasool added though the boys are happy, they will celebrate later. “They are tired. We are not going to party today, but we will once we reach Delhi,” he said.
What kept the boys going despite the hardships? “Love for the game and the hunger to succeed. It is only because of these two things that we have done very well this season and that too despite lack of proper facilities. It is unbelievable that we have achieved this,” he said.
Rasool said that his inclusion in the Indian team earlier this year was another factor that motivated the boys.
“It was one of the biggest factors. Our youngsters started believing that if Parvez was picked in the Indian team, then we can make it too. Thanks to Allah, this year our result has been fantastic. So has been our form. Had we got even half of facilities that others get, we would have had put up a much better performance,” he said.
Did he ever expect that J&K would be in last eight? “Obviously, expectations were there. We had got many outright wins. We were keeping a close watch on the points table. Also, our fate depended on Goa-Andhra result. We had lost out some hours of play due to bad weather. The only way to be in the contention was to play 90 overs so that we could atleast get the first innings win. The boys worked hard and our calculation, too, was right,” said Rasool.
Despite the high, a Ranji title is still a far-fetched dream from now, but Rasool is confident that they could achieve it one day. “From here on, I would appeal to the association and the government to give us all the facilities and infrastructure so that the talent that Allah has given us does not go waste. We will be playing in the Elite Division next year and a better preparation will definitely help us and also produce some international players,” he said.
Brief scores: Tripura 280 & 272 (A Dey 63; P Rasool 7/87) drew with J&K 325 & 87/2; Points: Jammu & Kashmir 3, Tripura 1