His passion for cricket made him to toil persistently on the dusty turfs till he made it hard for selectors to avoid him. Bilal Handoo talks to Adil Reshi to recount his journey and heroic innings so far.
It was third and final day of under-19 cricket match between J&K and Railways in New Delhi in 2007, and tension was already gripping J&K players. Railways had declared their innings at lunch and given J&K a target of 249 runs to chase in the remaining half-day of the play. Everybody on the ground speculated, predicted and believed that match will end up in a draw, until J&K’s opening batsman Adil Reshi stroked unbelievable 171 runs, not out, and sailed his team to a celebrating victory.
It was one of those ‘rare’ innings that proved all predictions and mathematics wrong and gave birth to a ‘cricket star’ on state level. He didn’t stop there. In the very next match that followed, Reshi stroked another ton and ended up being on winning side. His masterstrokes with bat made him irresistible for the state Ranji selection squad. He soon got the call from selectors informing him that he has been selected in Ranji trophy team.
“That inning was a turning point of my cricket career,” Reshi, 23, who is now the regular face of J&K state cricket team, says. “Though, one good performance might earn you a place at higher level, but it requires perseverance on part of a cricketer to cement that place.”
His place is still cemented in team after seven years of his heroics with bat. Hailing from Srinagar’s Barbarshah locality, the passion for the cricket runs very deep in his family. “Apart from my brother, my uncles were also passionate about cricket,” Reshi says. “But my father was against the game, he wanted us to concentrate only on studies.”
His enthusiasm for the game started when his elder brother took him as a kid to playground with him. The frequent visits slowly build his love for the game. But before he could grip batting handle, he was asked to run his pen on cricket scorebooks, which continued for one long year. “I guess, that time period only boosted my interest for cricket and also helped me to understand various nuances involved in it,” he says.
He sweated hard to perfect his stroke-plays and was soon selected for under-14 cricket team, but his stay in a team proved to be a short one. He was send back from Jammu as others in the camp performed much better than him. For the next year, he worked even harder to regain his spot in team. He earned his spot again, but was send to bat at number nine. He didn’t disappoint selectors on his return to team and went on to smash 60 odds runs against Punjab. “After that performance, I have cemented my place as an opener in the team,” Reshi says.
When IPL pattern cricket leagues started in the valley this summer, Reshi was chosen ‘icon player’ for the Kehwa team in Corporate Premier League (CPL). His team ended up topping points table in the league.
Now as Downtown cricket league (DCL) is unfolding on scene, Reshi is part of it and is captain of Pride Riders Rainawari, one of the twelve teams in the league. “These leagues will provide recognition to local talent, who otherwise remain away from the public sphere,” he says. “Besides, jobs provided by franchises to many talented cricketers in their companies, like I was given by Kehwa group, will also motivate players to spend more time in field to polish their talent. Earlier, many cricketers used to play cricket only on Sundays, while spending rest of their time working.”
However, Reshi had to pay for his devotion to cricket. His studies were pushed to backseat, as his selection in state team came when he was only Class VIII student. Rigorous training schedules and his zeal for the game left hardly any time for his studies. Apart from losing one precious year of studies, he also lost his father during the same time. He discontinued cricket for a while, but then succumbed to his love for game again. He is currently pursuing his studies as well.
In 2007, on his debut match at Sher-i-Kashmir Stadium against Assam, Reshi hit 48 runs against the star-studded team of North-East. After losing his wicket, the ace Indian cricketer, Bishan Singh Bedi reprimanded him for throwing his wicket cheaply. “He told me: ‘You were playing so nice, you shouldn’t have thrown your wicket in such a manner,’ ” Reshi recalls. “Sir, it was my debut match,” Reshi replied. “O’ really, that is great, but play for big scores now onwards,” Bedi told him.
Reshi did play for big score, when next time he came to bat. He gave the signatures of his brilliance with bat when he smashed blistering 88 runs. Since then, runs are continuously flowing from his bat.