Inspiring! India's stand-in blind captain Venkateshwara Rao playing despite not getting leave

India's stand-in blind captain Venkateshwara Rao is representing the country despite not getting leave; Andhra man yet to receive Jan salary

India bowler Venkateshwara Rao in full cry during their blind cricket World Cup match against South Africa at the MCA-BKC ground in Mumbai yesterday. Pic/SURESH KARKERA

There was more than just the stress of being India's stand-in captain for Venkateshwara Rao in a blind T20 World Cup match against South African at the Mumbai Cricket Association-BKC ground yesterday.

Rao, the 26-year-old B-2 category partially blind Andhra Pradesh opening batsman, is participating in this World Cup with virtually no money in his pocket.

His salary for January has yet to be credited into his account and he will not be paid for a good part of February since he was not granted leave to participate in the ongoing World Cup.

Village boy
Rao lives in a village called URK Puram in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh and works as a physical education teacher at Zilla Parishad High School, Devunalthada from whom he earns a monthly salary of R6000.

“I requested the school's Head Master to grant me leave as I am representing my country in the World Cup, but he did not approve it.

“I have also not received my salary for January,” Rao told mid-day after India's nine wicket victory over South Africa yesterday.

India's regular captain Ajay Reddy was rested for yesterday's match against the Proteas. Rao an attacking batsman, said it is impossible to play one's natural game when you are under such pressure. In spite of these problems, Rao is confident of defending the World Cup.

“As you saw, we dominated in all departments of the game today. We are a very good side and I am confident of retaining the World Cup. As far as my job problem is concerned, I will once again request the authorities to consider my financial problems and provide me a regular job, instead of me being employed on a contract basis,” Rao concluded.

Some money to play for
Of course, there's some money to earn if India win the cup. According to Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) president Mahantesh Kivadasannavar, the winning team get R five lakh as prize money while the runners-up take home R two lakh.

An all-round show by Ganesh Mundkar (48 not out, 2-14) helped India trounce the South Africas.

Chasing a target of 158, opener Jaffer Iqbal (50 not out) and No.4 Mundkar played attacking cricket to put on 69 runs for the second wicket to win in just 13.5 overs.

Earlier, riding on some excellent fielding and disciplined bowling from pacer Mundkar (2-14) and skipper Venkateshwar Rao (1-12), India restricted South Africa to 158 for seven in the allotted 20 overs.

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