Hardly there could be any cricket fan who doesn’t remember how Pakistan’s Javed Miandad hit the ball a low full-toss from Indian bowler Chetan Sharma, for a six into the crowd during the final of 1986 Austral-Asia Cup-but it may come as a surprise to many that before Miandad, it was a Kashmiri young cricketer who drained Sharma with his incredible cricketing skills.
Born in old city Srinagar, Sajad Hussain Shah was the Kashmiri cricketer who hit many sixes to Sharma’s balls before Miandad dazzled the crowds at Sharjah. This young boy with huge potential was mad about cricket but his dreams of becoming a finest cricketer remained unrealized as a bullet struck Shah’s chest at Jehangir Chowk- killing him on spot on April 04, 1989.
As the family of Shah observed his death anniversary Friday, according to his elder brother Khurshid, Shah’s friends who had witnessed his cricketing skills in late 1980s’ are still unable to reconcile with themselves when they recall their friend’s mesmerizing strokes.
Recalling his affinity with the game of cricket, Shah’s friends stated that during under 15 cricket tournament, held between Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab-Shah, who represented Jammu and Kashmir, gave tough time to Chetan Sharma and hit many sixes on his balls.
“His every shot was being cheered and the crowd just loved him the way he played that game. He scored 87 runs during the match,” said his close friend Mukhtar Ahmad who is now in his mid 40’s. He added that Sajad was cleared for the selection of fewer than 19 in the Indian cricket team but was finally dropped allegedly for being a Kashmiri.
“At present everyone knows that it was Javed Miandad who is famously known for last ball six against India during the final of 1986 Austral-Asia Cup and that last over was bowled by Sharma but hardly anyone could remember how Sajad performed the same way in which Miandad did against Sharma that too when he was just 13 years old,” said Khurshid Ahmad, Sajad‘s brother.
He said that on April 4, 1989, JKLF had called for peaceful protests in Srinagar against the killing of one person namely Ashiq Hussain who was killed during the protests against Salman Rushidie’s blasphemous writings.
Sajad was protesting against Ashiq’s killing during which he received a bullet injury near Gaw Kadal that killed him on the spot.
Shah’s another friend Khalid Mohammad who now owns a grocery shop in the old city and has two children, both married, says that Sajad used to play cricket with him in the nearby open grounds. He was mad about this game- he was like born for Cricket- he said.
Recalling one of the incidents that prove how much Sajad was zealous about the game, Khalid says that once parents took Shah to Ajmmer Shraief to seek blessings. Shah bought a cricket bat and wickets as ‘tabaruk’ from Ajmeer.
Khalid said that Shah’s only dream was to become a successful cricketer as his skills were even praised by his opponents all the time. “After Tehreek- Sajad sacrificed his dream for cricket and began working as an activist for Students’ league.”
Khalid says that whenever he watches little kids playing cricket on the streets of downtown- he gets a feeling that perhaps Shah is reborn in one of these kids. “Normally people don’t allow children to play cricket on the roads but I do as I see Sajad growing in them.” (KNS)