A wave of euphoria swept Braripora – a non-descript village tucked away in apple orchards in powder keg district of Shopian, as soon as the word about the selection of Jasia Akther for senior women’s challenger trophy reached here. Akhtar is all set to play for India Reds in Andhra Pradesh in January 2019.
Last week in the dead of night, a notification lit up the mobile phone of Akhtar heralding her selection in the team.
“Soon I was flooded by hundreds of congratulatory messages”, said Akhtar.
25-year-old Akhtar barely knew anything about cricket until she reached her senior secondary school level, though she had a die-hard penchant for sports.
“I would play athletics. During one of the matches, I was introduced to cricket by an athletic coach and that was the turning point”, recounts Akhtar.
Akhtar soon developed a keen interest in the sport and started playing cricket at full throttle. Akhtar says that from 2012 onwards, she began playing the sport with a professional tinge.
” In 2011, I was part of the senior women league and played matches in Delhi and Himachal”, she said.
However, Akhtar says that she did not know much about the techniques of the sport and was playing well-nigh like the cricketers do play in streets.
Soon the cricketing passion took Akhtar to Punjab where she received proper coaching and in 2013, she was selected for North Zone representing the Punjab state.
“I got a No Objection Certificate from Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) and played for Punjab in North Zone”, Akhtar said.
Then it was no looking back for Akhtar. In 2017, she was invited to India Camp organised by National Cricket Academy where she played two league matches and in one of the matches she scored fantastic 67 runs. And now her selection for India Reds is no mean feat. Meantime, Akhtar also joined a cricket academy in Punjab where she offers coaching to budding cricketers.
Eldest among her five siblings, Akhtar comes from a very humble background. Her father is an unlettered farmer and the family lives off the land.
Akhtar says that her family particularly her parents were always supportive and it was because of their unqualified support that she could follow her passion.
” We did not have enough resources to enroll her in any cricket academy in or outside the state. Whatever she did, was all on her own and I am happy that her hard work finally bore fruit”, said Akhtar’s father Gul Mohammad Wani.
Akhtar’s brother Suhail Ahmad says that everyone in their village is on cloud nine after hearing about the selection of Akhtar.
“Everyone in our village is happy for her and wants to see her playing international cricket”, Ahmad said.