Growing up as a boy in a remote village in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora district, Manzoor Dar (Pandav) once decided to shovel snow on the local cricket field all by himself.
It was a chilly morning, but Dar says he was determined to avenge the loss of his team the previous day. It took him a few hours, but he could prepare the pitch and gear up for the next match.
Dar, 24, is the only player from Jammu and Kashmir in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL). He has been bought by Kings XI Punjab at his base price of Rs 20 lakh. Before him, Parvez Rasool, J & K skipper, was the player from the state to feature in IPL.
Dar says it is passion for the game that has kept him going despite abject poverty. Being the eldest of eight siblings – he has four sisters and three brothers — Dar says there were many responsibilities to shoulder.
“Along with concentrating on my game, I had to also work hard to look after my family amid challenging circumstances. I had to leave my studies midway and support my father,” says an emotional Dar.
Dar made his J&K debut last year, in the North Zone Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament, and hasn’t looked back. He has played nine T20s with a strike rate of 145 plus.
Dar says his cricketing journey began when he got a chance to play for a local team and ended up scoring a century studded with eight sixes. “Following this, I was picked by another team that used to play in Srinagar.”
For his first match in Srinagar, Dar says, “I did not have a pair of shoes. I couldn’t afford.” He adds with a smile, “I could have borrowed a pair from my teammates, but my feet are so large.
“My family has faced lot of difficulties. At times we had to sleep without proper food,” Dar said with a lump in his throat, explaining how he once made his siblings eat apples instead of a proper dinner.
“I am telling you just 10 % of the difficulties we have faced,” says Dar, this time breaking down. He started working as a security guard in the night, concentrating on his game during the day. This was “a life-changing decision” as it took care of his family and gave him time to pursue his passion by playing for local clubs that would also pay him occasionally.
“Had it not been for this, I wouldn’t have reached anywhere near what I am today,” he says.
The difficult days are over and his family is better off, Dar adds.
“At one point, we couldn’t afford pen for my sisters. Shukur khuda ka! Meri behne abhi bhi pad rahi hai (Thanks to the Almighty, my sisters are also studying),” he says. One sister has graduated, another is in the second year of graduation and his younger sisters are also studying.
For Dar also it’s back to studies after a gap of some years. He recently appeared for the Class 12 board exams before joining Kings XI Punjab’s preparatory camp in Mohali. “I did well. I am hopeful of a positive result,” he says.
Dar says his next target is to successfully execute MS Dhoni’s famous ‘helicopter shot’. “I’ve been practising it for two years. Inshallah, you will get to see it soon.”
Courtesy Hindustan Times ( https://www.hindustantimes.com/cricket/from-watchman-to-ipl-kashmir-s-manzoor-dar-living-his-dream/story-wwe9JFCtJBiSvoxPaKjSeK.html)