Success In The Midst Of The Turmoil Of The History Of Jasia Akhtar > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Success amidst turmoil - the tale of Jasia Akhtar

Jasia Akhtar will play for Trailblazers, under the captaincy of Smriti Mandhana

From Jeremy Lin (NBA) to Jayson Bromley (NFL), the sports landscape has witnessed some outstanding stories worldwide from kutcha to pucca houses. Similarly, eldest among her five siblings - three sisters and two brothers - Kashmir's very own Jasia Akhtar's story strikes a poignant chord.

Jasia lives with her parents in a single-storied two-room house in Braripora village of Kapren area of the restive Shopian district in the southern part of Jammu and Kashmir. It is tucked away from the usual buzz, and, that too, in the orchards. But that is slowly changing.

Jasia Akhtar will become the first cricketer from J&K to feature in the Women's T20 Challenge, set to take place in Jaipur from May 6. Akhtar is to play for the Trailblazers, led by seasoned campaigner Smriti Mandhana. The other two teams, Supernovas and Velocity will be led by Harmanpreet Kaur and Mithali Raj respectively. The four-match tri-series will culminate on May 11 at the same venue.

Since the announcement, Akhtar, who prefers to don the traditional Kashmiri attire, witnessed her house becoming a focal point. "Everyone is happy to see Jasia bringing laurels to the village, in particular. She has been an inspiration for many. I have often prayed for her success," Jasia's delighted father, Ghulam Mohammad Wani, who is a farmer by occupation, told Cricbuzz.

But for this moment to arrive, Akhtar had to face overwhelming crisis and setbacks. The turning point of her career, she recounts, was when Guru Nanak Dev University's coach Ranjeet Singh suggested to her to switch to Punjab due to a financial crunch at home. Back then, the JKCA too wasn't equipped enough to support her well. "It's unfortunate that we don't have much of the facilities available in Kashmir. The opportunities have considerably taken a hit," Jasia Akhtar told Cricbuzz in an interview.

So, at the back end of 2013, she kicked off her career-defining journey with Punjab's women's team. But, the stint did not turn out the way she wanted it to. Akhtar failed to cross the double-digit mark in a couple of matches. But, she found a savior in Harmanpreet Kaur in those trying times. "I will remember those words for life," she said, while recalling the time when the Harmanpreet went to her room at 10:30 at night for a pep talk. If I would want anyone to bat for my life, it has to be Harman."

The breakthrough came in 2017 when Jasia got selected among 25 players for the Indian national women camp at the National Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, making her the first female cricketer from Kashmir region to achieve this feat twice. A wave of euphoria swept her village in 2018 when Akhtar made it to the India Reds team, to play under Shikha Pandey. The community of Kashmir knew Akhtar was heading in the right direction despite facing the ire owing to societal taboos.

Along with instilling hope amongst the cricket-aspirants in Kashmir, the rise of Akhtar serves as an inspiring flash within the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA). Her tale - an epitome of remarkable character, courage, and commitment - is dominated with a lot of toil. After all, she, being riddled with problems for her association with a state with subpar cricketing facilities, had to overcome numerous obstacles to become the first female cricketer from J&K to secure a berth in Women's Twenty20 Challenge.

Since the tender age of seven, Akhtar has worked meticulously to achieve a long-knitted dream which materialized on April 24, with a call from an official informing her about the selection. "When I received a phone call, I did not believe what I was told," Akhtar said, "I surfed through the Internet to find a mention in one of the squads. I jumped in joy. I am happy to make it count. I told my father that I have been told to report on May 2.

"First of all, it has to be the acceptance from Almighty Allah. Credit goes to my parents who have been there during the distressing times. You can say it's one of those moments which can leave you speechless. I skipped a heartbeat."

"It is a massive occasion for me to play with the marquee cricketers in the Women's IPL, and I am honoured to see the great reward of all my hard work paying off finally," she stated. "I am looking forward to learning the (aspects) of the game from these celebrated cricketers. Their inputs will help me to take my game to the next level."

Akhtar had tried her hand at softball and kabbadi before taking to cricket. Now, she is set to enjoy a riveting chapter of her life. This despite her taking an indefinite break from cricket which extended to three-long years in the past. A Sachin Tendulkar admirer, she on the odd occasions shuttled for about 60 KMs to Srinagar's historic Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium for practice before resorting to YouTube videos to improve her game.

"When I made mistakes, I straightaway opted for an hour-long shadow practice either by watching the television or accessing the videos through YouTube. I barely knew anything until I played state-level cricket," Akhtar said.

Her feat is no mean effort. It has already seen two former chief ministers laud Jasia Akhtar's talent and achievements. Parvez Rasool, who leads the J&K men's team, spoke highly of her too.

"It's great to see players coming from big districts rather than Srinagar or Jammu region. It reflects there are a lot of potential players to get introduced at the highest level," Parvez Rasool, who leads J&K men's team, said. "Also, it gives a fair idea how talented they are. If we go by talent you'll find it everywhere in J&K which unfortunately did not happen in the last 40 years," he added.

Hailing from a middle-class family, life has been all about struggle throughout her childhood. Akhtar has sacrificed her comforts to carve out a niche while holding a bat which signifies hope. Even when at home following a grueling tour to different states, Akhtar trains for at least two hours a day, underscoring her meticulous approach towards her game.

Jasia's journey is of success achieved amidst turmoil. Along with personal success, it serves a bigger cause - that Kashmir's sportspersons, brimming with talent, should have the same recognition which its picturesque landscape enjoys.

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