T20 World Series | COVID-19: 18-player team have not received their share of Rs 3 lakh each

Updated: May 02, 2020, 10:33 IST | Subodh Mayure | Mumbai

Members of India's Physically Disabled T20 World Series-winning team await their Rs 3 lakh each reward from BCCI.

India players celebrate after winning the Physical Disability T20 World Series title at the Blackfinch New Road ground in Worcestershire, England last August. Pic courtesy/ BCCI Twitter
India players celebrate after winning the Physical Disability T20 World Series title at the Blackfinch New Road ground in Worcestershire, England last August. Pic courtesy/ BCCI Twitter

When Vikrant Keni, who led the Indian team to its maiden Physical Disability T20 World Series in England last year, and teammate Gurudas Raut were invited by BCCI president Sourav Ganguly & Co to the Cricket Centre on March 4 to receive the token cheque of R65 lakh as prize money for their flawless performance, their achhe din may have begun to look like coming true.

A few weeks later, India went into lockdown to fight against the dreadful Coronavirus and the 18-player team have not received their share of R3 lakh each. The Indian cricket board has yet to release the payment but say the players will receive their dues soon.

The Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) had approved the prize money for the Indian physically challenged team before their term ended last October. With most of the players from the T20 World Series-winning squad living a hand-to-mouth existence, they feel the BCCI prize money would make a huge difference to them especially in these COVID-19 pandemic-caused testing times.

All-rounder Ramesh Naidu, 24, whose father M Ramu earns R15,000 from driving cars at Vijaya Medical Centre in Visakhapatnam, is finding it difficult to cope with the lockdown. "My family is completely dependent on my father's income. It's difficult to manage during this period," said Naidu, who is in his last year of M Tech (Master of Technology) in Electrical Engineering at IIT Chennai. Naidu had taken an education loan of Rs 4.5 lakh.

Wasim Khan, who hails from the turbulent Kashmir region, was banking on the prize money to cope with the lockdown.

"With no job, it's quite tough to exist. My elder brother is a lawyer but he is without any work at the moment. We have some groceries at home but I don't know how long they will last. We have got no help from anyone. It will be a big relief if BCCI releases our prize money soon," said Wasim, who had scored a match-winning 40-ball 79 in the semi-final against Pakistan.

Hard-hitting batsman Sudanese Mahendaran, 29, who changed the complexion of the game in the final against England with his 11-ball 33, said the lockdown has rendered his family income-less. "There has been no income for the last month as my father has not been able to ride his auto rickshaw due to the lockdown. My close friends are helping us out," said the Tamil Nadu lad.

Bengal-based wicketkeeper batsman Debabrata Roy, 31, is confident BCCI president Ganguly will rescue the players. "I was earning R8,000 till last month as a salesman at a cloth store. I am sure Dada [Ganguly] will look into our problems," said Roy.

Left-arm spinner Anish Rajan, who was India's highest wicket-taker (11) in the tournament, has had his share of suffering in the lockdown.

Skipper Vikrant Keni (right) and teammate Gurudas Raut with the R65 lakh cheque they received from the BCCI in March. PIC/SURESH KARKERA
Skipper Vikrant Keni (right) and teammate Gurudas Raut with the R65 lakh cheque they received from the BCCI in March. Pic/ Suresh Karkera

A mechanical engineer by profession, Rajan quit his job in 2015 to pursue a career in cricket.

"My dream was to play for India. I play as a professional for Tripunithura Cricket Club in Kochi and I also officiate in matches as umpire or scorer. However, due to the lockdown, there has been no source of income," he said.

Skipper Keni, who is lucky to have a steady source of income, sympathised with the financial condition of some of his teammates. "Most of the players from my team are struggling as they have no jobs. I think the BCCI prize money is taking time due to the lockdown," said Palghar-based Keni.

BCCI's General Manager Cricket Operations, Syed Saba Karim told mid-day on Friday that the prize money will be remitted in a couple of days. "It has been approved and in a day or two, it will be processed. The amount will be deposited in their [players'] bank account. It has been cleared from our side," Karim said.

I will talk to BCCI: AICAPC prez Ghavri

AICAPC prez Karsan Ghavri
AICAPC prez Karsan Ghavri

The president of the All India Cricket Association for Physically Challenged (AICAPC), Karsan Ghavri said he would talk to the BCCI officials to release the prize money of the Physical Disability T20 World Series-winning team once the lockdown ends. "It [the prize money] was supposed to go into the players' account, but it has not happened. This is not the right time to talk. Let everything settle down. We will definitely speak to the authorities," the former India all-rounder told mid-day.
Ghavri is also hopeful of sorting out the employment problems of the physically challenged cricketers. "We are definitely trying to help them out. In fact, Nitin Gadkari, a senior minister in the central government, is helping us a lot in this regard," he added.

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