Thatscricket - News - 'We are going on a goodwill mission'

Published: Saturday, February 14, 2004, 20:04 [IST]
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New Delhi:While India's Test cricketers await news of whether their tour of Pakistan will go ahead, their visually impaired colleagues are getting set to board a bus that will take them across the border for a 12-day tour.

"We are going on a mission of goodwill and there is no worry regarding our security," said captain Manvinder Patwal as the Association for Cricket for the Blind in India (ACBI) announced the itinerary for next week's tour.

India's Test tour of Pakistan has suddenly been thrown in doubt amid security fears and because the Indian Government wants it postponed.

For the blind players, however, there is no question of calling off the tour, with Patwal saying the players will board the Delhi-Lahore bus on February 18 for their tour, during which they will play five One-dayers, including two in the volatile city of Karachi.

"We are looking forward to the tour with enthusiasm and hope to give a good account of ourselves," said Patwal, looking to exact revenge for their loss in the last World Cup.

Pakistan beat India on their way to winning the second edition of the World Cup for the blind held at Madras in 2002.

"We lost to them in India but hope to win when we play across the border," the Indian captain added. "An India-Pakistan match is always a tough contest even in our competitions."

John Abraham, chairman of the ACBI, said the tour had been brought forward to ensure it would break the ice between the two cricketing nations.

"We were originally scheduled to tour only in March but advanced the dates after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced its intention of touring Pakistan in March-April."

"The Pakistani Government has agreed in principle and we are just waiting for the formalities to be completed," said Abraham.

"The tour provides yet another platform for people to people contact. We believe that the blind cricketing fraternities of the two nations would love to have many such exchanges," he added.

Abraham hoped the BCCIwould recognise the progress made by the visually impaired.

"The cricket Boards in South Africa and Sri Lanka support their blind cricketers but it is not so in India. Probably they think this is not cricket," said Abraham, himself partially blind.

"But we are doing quite well on our own and hope to spread the message of friendship in Pakistan," he said.

Captain Patwal hoped playing in the country of legendary fast bowler Wasim Akram would prove to be a memorable experience.

"We have all idolised players like Akram and hope to interact with some of the top Pakistani players," said Patwal.

The blind cricket series opens with a match in Lahore on February 20. Karachi will be the venue for the next two matches on February 22 and 24, followed by matches in Shekhapura (27th) and Rawalpindi (29th).

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