Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Getting express fast bowlers under their ranks is a perennial problem for Team India. Chinks in Men in Blue’s armory are often exposed due to the absence of genuine fast bowlers. The likes of express fast bowler Varun Aaron give a ray of hope for a brief while, but they soon go into oblivion due to injury scares.

However, off late talents like Umran Malik, who can constantly bowl 150km per hour have bolstered the Indian attack. Moreover, he is not the only pacer from Jammu and Kashmir to shine in international arena. Another raw speedster from the valley is in offing.

Meet Waseem Bashir from far-off Pahalgam village in Jammu and Kashmir who can bowl 150km per hour on a constant basis.

The 22-year-old right-hand pacer is currently part of the Jammu and Kashmir U-25 team and scaring batters with his raw pace. Waseem has become a household name in Pahalgam since he was called for trials by Indian Premier League franchise Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) last year.

Waseem has to go through a hard struggle to pursue his passion for cricket.

With poor sports and educational infrastructure in the area, most of the children in the famed tourism spot Pahalgam often abandon their studies to earn livelihood through various tourism activities.

However, Waseem from far-off Pahalgam village, Mamal, has a different reason to bid goodbye to the regular mode of studies and chose distance mode. Yes, it was his passion for cricket.

Waseem, a right-hand pacer having been called for Indian Premier League (IPL) trials in 2021 by KKR, was a staunch cricket lover since his childhood. After playing street and lawn cricket for several years, Waseem at High School level played U-19 and U-23 at district and state level cricket during his secondary and higher secondary school days. His passion for the game was such that in the absence of sports infrastructure in his area, he used to go to other distant areas like Anantnag and Bijbehara to play cricket with different teams. At many local tournaments, Waseem impressed all and sundry with his raw pace, skill and accuracy.

Waseem, after passing Class 12th, decided to carry on his studies through distance mode to ensure that his game is not affected.

“I would spend days and nights away from home to play the game. Pursuing studies through regular mode would have affected my game. So, I chose to continue my studies through IGNOU to ensure that my game does not suffer,” he said.

Waseem even went outside to seek coaching from the experts at Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC) Bangalore two years ago.

The express fast bowler believes that the lack of sporting facilities in the valley is something which needs to be filled so that the cricketers in the region don’t fall short of the training and coaching when they join outside cricket camps.

Bashir wants to see himself playing in the IPL and for the national team as well. “It is a dream of every cricketer to play in IPL and International cricket, and this is what I am aiming for,” he added.