Srinagar, Aug 08: Iqra Rasool, a 17-year-old girl from Baramulla has shone in the cricket academy in Kolkatta where she is being trained to become a fast bowler. Iqra, who was passionate to play cricket from her childhood, was called for trials by Aditya School of Sports in Kolkatta and she made everyone awestruck and proud in the academy. Iqra studied at Government Girls High School at Dangiwacha in Baramulla, where she studied till Class X. The sports teacher at the school, Sarfaraz Nabi, realised Iqra’s potential and convinced her to start playing cricket seriously. “Sir told me I should be a fast bowler since I’m tall and can throw the ball fast. So I started learning pace bowling under him and soon I fell in love with it. Cricket became my passion,” said the girl, whose favourite pacer is Mohammad Amir. “I never miss any match of India and Pakistan since I love watching Kohli and Amir.” Her mother was the only one in the family to encourage her. “When I started playing cricket in 2013, I would only tell my mother when I went for matches. The rest of the family knew I was visiting relatives’ homes, otherwise I had to fight for permission. I couldn’t practise before the matches,” she said. Iqra’s talent came to the fore as she caught the attention of association coaches and was selected for the under-19 state team in 2014. She played zonal, district, state and national-level tournaments over the next three years. Her best spell was four wickets for seven runs in four overs against Telangana in a national-level tournament. “I played without much practice or professional training. Whatever I learnt, it was from Sarfaraz Sir in school,” she said. Aditya School of Sports admitted Iqra in May under its scholarship programme and provided her all the facilities to become an international cricketer. Aditya School of Sports changed Iqra’s life. “When we were looking for some good talents for our sports school, we came to know about Iqra. We contacted her family and after a lot of effort managed to convince them to allow her to join our academy. She was brought here as part of the Aditya School of Sports scholarship programme,” said Anirban Aditya, the chairman of Aditya Group. Former Indian pacer, Jhulan Goswami recognized Iqra’s talent in the academy and hoped she becomes a fast bowler. “Iqra is a great talent. She is tall and strong. She can bowl really fast. More importantly, she is passionate about the game. I have heard from the coaches that she has improved a lot since I saw her. So I’m really hopeful about her,” said Jhulan, a mentor at the sports school. The Class XI student at Aditya Academy Iqra has been training at Aditya School of Sports for the past three months. Her hard work bore fruit when she made it to the list of 30-odd kids who will fly to Australia for a training programme at Michael Clarke Academy in Sydney.
Abdul Monayem, the bowling coach and head, cricket operations, at Aditya School of Sports, is certain Iqra will go a long way. “She is doing very well. When she first came here, I thought she would be homesick. But she loves the game very much. She is a quick learner,” said Monayem. Iqra’s ultimate dream is to become an international player and bowl faster at a speed of 160km per hour. (KNS)