23-yr-old gives J&K, self a new innings

FP

In November 2009, Parvez Rasool, then an Under-22 cricketer, hit the headlines for an incident that he wishes to forget. As a member of the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) junior team, he had been living on the premises of the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore when terrorists targeted it. Among those detained was Rasool, allegedly after traces of explosive material were found in his kit bag.

A few days later, forensic reports cleared him, and Rasool continued his cricketing journey. On Tuesday, the 23-year-old all-rounder was declared man of the match for leading J&K to their first Ranji Trophy win in over three years — he had a top score of 67 in his side's first innings, a 106-ball unbeaten 120 in the second, and took 7 wickets for 41 as Assam, the Group C leaders, were trounced by 235 runs.

Speaking to The Indian Express from Guwahati, Rasool said "to be the man of the match in our first win since 2009 is very humbling... Assam was the top team in our pool and we lost the toss. The odds were stacked against us."

The 2012-13 Ranji season has proved to be a watershed year for the all-rounder from Bijbehara district in southern Kashmir near Srinagar. In J&K's previous match against Goa, Rasool scored a typically hard-hitting 171.

He attributed J&K's improved performance this season largely to the influence of coach Bishan Singh Bedi. "Bedi sir has totally changed our mindset and instilled belief. He has motivated us to start thinking about winning matches and not just competing," said Rasool.

This season hasn't quite been a bed of roses for J&K and their coach though. Bedi, the former India captain, was accused by a number of J&K players of being biased and having created divisions in the camp, which led to 12 boycotting a Ranji match. Rasool insists though that the issue has been resolved. "And a win like this will only iron out any remaining friction. The atmosphere has improved drastically over the last few weeks," he said.

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