The Curious Case of Kashmiri Players in the IPL: Are They Being Discriminated Against?

JAVEID HASSAN MALIK

On March 24, the IPL 2019 kicked off on a submissive note with no glittering and star-studded opening ceremony unlike previous IPL editions. That night every Kashmiri glued with TV sets was caught in state of shock and awe when 17 year old speed star Rashik Salam from South Kashmir’s Kulgam district became the youngest player to make debut for the Mumbai Indians against Delhi capitals. When THE clock tickled to 8 pm, the scheduled time for start of match it was Rashik Salam who came to bowl the first ball of the 2019 IPL edition with star batsman Shekhar Dhawan facing him; it was a moment of joy ,thrill and excitement for whole Kashmir, in general, and his family , in particular , to see the young pacer rise to the ranks of IPL at such a young age, but it wasn’t a dream start for young pacer as he over stepped on the very first ball but he recovered very quickly and delivered fast nipping in swinger which zoomed past the inside edge of Shekhar Dhawan into keepers gloves.
From this delivery it appeared this boy had something about him that had brought him to this stage. Rashik finished his spell with a steady pace but had to face the brute force of South African Colin Ingram and maverick Rishab Pant who smashed him to every corner of the boundary and he ended up finishing his quota of four overs with no wicket for forty-two runs. This was the last time Rashik was seen on playing field. Since then Mumbai Indians have played thirteen matches and Rashik continues to occupy the dugout with little hopes of returning to squad in highly competitive Mumbai squad and with this all the expectations of Rashik proving his worth in IPL have come to rest. Did he deserve to be dropped will remain unanswered puzzle till the end? Many cricketing experts believe that Rashik deserved a second chance he showed the occasional glimpse of his class during his spell and to have cost 42 runs was not bad start at all for 17 year old pacer against star studded Delhi capitals, that too in the T2O format which is often considered a batting friendly one.
But for many denizens of Kashmir it appeared like the same old story with Kashmiri players but this time the protagonist was different, as the saga of Manzoor Dar was still fresh in minds of many people. Dar had made it to the IPL after being sold by Kings Eleven Punjab. Manzoor’s tale was no different; he didn’t get single chance to represent his team on field and throughout the whole IPL season he kept on sitting in dugout with the only job of serving drinks to players on field. He became a laughing stock on social networking sites and got trolled with hilarious memes of waterman in cricketing kit even it was no fault of his.
Parvez Rasool’s saga was no different. After making it to India’s national side his auction in IPL came as no surprise; he was considered as a most gifted all rounder with a bright future ahead. Parvez represented three IPL franchises (Pune Warrior RCB and SRH) in three successive IPL editions. He was given role of bowling all rounder and got ignored as batsman; if we scroll through his statistics of IPL career it doesn’t portray a good picture: in his IPL career of eleven matches, he has batted only in five innings scored 17 runs with an average 8.5. This could have been better had he been given chance to bat bit higher in the order but he got always treated as a tail ender although his first class career record is testimony to fact Parvez was no mug with the bat in hand he has always been among top run getters in Ranji cricket. But what his coaches saw in him remains mystery till date as he continues to pile runs with his bat. In the bowling department in a spell of thirty three overs in eleven matches Parvez has taken only four wickets at an economy rate of 8.27,these statistics don’t go well with his bowling but if we analyse his bowling in IPL ,he mostly came to bowl in power plays so a high economy rate was on cards and this year no franchise was ready to hire him for his services and thus he remained unsold.
Now if we collectively analyze the brief careers of all three players from Kashmir in IPL, they didn’t get ample chance to show their worth. IPL is considered as platform for learning for youngsters by sharing dressing room with international players of repute but if a player makes it to this stage and still they don’t get a chance to show case his talent it amounts to an illusion for him. Somewhere down the line regional bias in selection can’t be ruled out in the IPL. BCCI needs to take cognizance of this problem they have to take franchises into confidence so young players making it to this stage get chance to showcase and improve skills on the field rather than warming seats in dugouts.

—The author can be reached at: malikjavid86@gmail.com