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Maharashtra wins hearing impaired women’s cricket tournament

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‘I never imagined that I would get an opportunity to play cricket at this level,’ says batswoman Fauzia Khanum

‘I never imagined that I would get an opportunity to play cricket at this level,’ says batswoman Fauzia Khanum

Fauzia Khanum hadn’t imagined that the first time she played professional cricket for her home State of Maharashtra, she would go on to win the National Women’s Cricket Tournament held in Mumbai. This is the third time Maharashtra has won the championship for hearing impaired women.

The 22-year-old batswoman was part of a 11-member team women that defeated Uttar Pradesh by 10 wickets. Ms. Khanum, who is hearing impaired by birth, lives with her parents and siblings, who aren’t people with disabilities (PwD). “I was always interested in sports but would have never imagined that I would get an opportunity to play cricket at this level. Although my mother supported me, my father was convinced I would never do anything in my life,” she said smilingly on a video call arranged via Anjali Rane, 23, an experienced interpreter for several organisations for the hearing impaired.

The youngest player in the team, Chandani Khan, 19, is Ms. Khanum’s friend. She, too, played professional cricket for the first time in this series. Ms. Khan, a bowler, had contacted the team’s coach, Sachin Sarfare, over social media and asked if she could play for the series. Mr. Sarfare, who is also hearing impaired, had been coaching the team for three months by then. “I had no experience of teaching cricket to women but they worked really hard and have done exceptionally well,“ Mr. Sarfare, who also trained the hearing impaired men’s cricket team that went on to win a Ranji Trophy, said.

Mr. Sarfare’s wife, Alpana, who is the captain of the hearing impaired women’s team, and the mother of a five-year-old, said her husband is her inspiration and that the team had been able to win the tournament because of his continuous support. She praised the team and said that her vice captain, Needa Shaikh, was declared the ‘Woman of the Match’, ‘Bowler of the Series’ and ‘Woman of the Series’ for the T20 Women’s National Cricket Championship for Deaf 2022 at the Islam Gymkhana in Mumbai on April 29. “We are very proud of Chandani, who was told by Mr. M.P. Singh (childhood coach of M.S. Dhoni, former captain of the Indian national cricket team) that he would like to coach her,” Ms. Sarfare said.

The team that won the trophy also has a 48-year-old all-round player, Ajita Wadadekar, who had returned to cricket after a gap of 16 years. “I used to play cricket all the time when I was young. But I had to leave it because I had to run the house. I am happy to have picked it up again since the last five years,” Ms. Wadadekar said.

The annual event was organised by the Indian Deaf Cricket Association and hosted by Yuva Cricket Society of the Deaf from April 26 to 29. Hearing impaired women from Karnataka, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi participated.



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