Srinagar, Jan. 2: Parvez Rasool is tasting the “fruits of patience” — and the frame of mind to put behind him the few hours that could have tainted his life forever.
Rasool hit the headlines three years ago when he was wrongfully arrested for suspected terror links in Bangalore while representing the Jammu and Kashmir Under-22 cricket team in the CK Nayudu tournament.
Today, he became the first Kashmiri to qualify for the 14-member India A cricket team.
“Allah rewards people who have patience and what I am reaping today are the fruits of my patience,” Rasool told The Telegraph over phone from Jallandhar, shortly after learning of his inclusion in the team.
“What happened with me that day was unfortunate and could have happened with anybody else. Today, it is time to celebrate and I have left that controversy behind,” he added.
Rasool was detained by Bangalore police in October 2009 after investigators claimed to have found explosives in his bag. The incident triggered a row between the Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka governments with chief minister Omar Abdullah hitting out at Bangalore police for making him a scapegoat.
Hours later, Rasool was cleared of the charges after forensic tests proved his luggage had no traces of explosives. Not many have been so lucky.
As part of the country’s A squad, he is likely to play a warm-up match against England on January 6, along with Sreesanth and Murali Vijay.
“I foresee a day soon when I will play for India’s national team,” the 23-year-old all-rounder said.
Manzoor Wazir, an office-bearer of the J&K Cricket Association, said it was a great day for Kashmir cricket. “He surely deserved that after scoring 600 runs and taking 33 wickets in the Ranji Trophy tournament last year,” Wazir said.
The official said Rasool was the first Kashmiri to find a berth in the team. “No Kashmiri has done it before. However, one cricketer from Jammu, Surinder Singh, had this honour before.”
Rasool helped his state team win two matches —against Assam and Kerala —during the Ranji Trophy tournament where he scored two centuries.
The success came after the J&K cricket team was split on regional lines, with players from Kashmir boycotting a match against Andhra Pradesh over “biased selection” and inclusion of some “undeserving” players from Jammu. A patch-up later helped Rasool and several other players from Kashmir rejoin the state team.
Rasool is a second-generation cricketer in a family of cricketers. His father Ghulam Rasool Zargar, who hails from the bat-making hub Bijebehara, played for a local club for 20 years. Zargar, however, had to settle as a driver in a government department to run his family.
“My family is known here as a family of cricketers and I was sure that when somebody will come to investigate the case of my son here, everybody will tell them that it is the family of cricketers. Cricket is perhaps the only thing that we know,” Zargar had told The Telegraph in 2009 after his son was released. “Parvez started playing cricket at the age of six and I was his first instructor. I tried to give my children a good education and make them better cricketers.”
Zargar’s eldest son Asif, 26, has also played for Ranji while the youngest, Omar, has represented the state in the Under-14 and Under-17 categories.