By the time, the professional domestic Twenty20 competition Indian Premier League (IPL) comes around- it would entertain and equally confound many with the peppy numbers and rollicking performances respectively.
This year’s (2018) list of cricketers for the T20 league will witness many of those superstars including a lone youngster from Kashmir.
Cricketers in the valley, in particular, have had faced a stern test while taking on the hardships – to make it big in life, eventually. And congealed maidans has had set the affair for youth from time-to-time.
To the whilst, from the beguiling fast bowler Abdul Qayoom Bhagaw, who hails from south Kashmir – to the valley’s poster boy Parvez Rasool, one such name has stood tall in the frame and he belongs from the northern part of Kashmir.
The cricketer is doing the rounds over the internet since January 2018 for having the strong CV on his back. If not the international swansong, but as the local hero when it comes to the flexing of muscles. He is none other than calm and composed and down-to-earth batting giant Manzoor Ahmad Dar, who hails from Suganpora – a village in north Kashmir’s Sumbal area of Bandipora district.
The dropout from 12th class Manzoor subsequently deserves a big applause for his athleticism. His ability to smoke the ball all around the park with the minimum effort is incredible reaction to watch out for.
However, Manzoor didn’t witness a Tarmac surface back home. He batted on and on in his backyard.
Well, the absence of proper cricketing infrastructure did not keep up the state into the business end while grassroots level has also been mired in the political gimmicks.
In the politically troubled Kashmir, it is Manzoor’s hard work which represents the talented youth of the time and stepped on the gas with his sheer dedication. The muscular allrounder Manzoor is the son of a labourer Mukhtar Ahmad Dar.
Nonchalant Manzoor spoke to Sportzwiki about his struggle, passion and reveals the secret behind his hard-hitting prowess – to inculcate fear among the bowlers who by far clocked at 145kph.
Obstinately, Manzoor reflected about his ordeals and his undying spirit towards gentleman’s game. He has now become the vanguard to dictate his terms solely with his mannerism he is known for and eventually could become the nucleus of the team this summer.
“In my childhood, we collected INR 10 rupees to play cricket and we have been collecting the amount for the cricket gears as well. At times, it was tough for me for not able to pay even this meagre amount,” Manzoor reflects.
Thudding a ball on the jute-woven mat, it has been an intriguing and riveting story at the same time back in Kashmir. It is only feasible option establishing as of now, on the 22-yard surface in the valley – to produce cricketers like Manzoor.
“I played first-ever club match for Haideriya Cricket Club (HCC) at Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium in Srinagar against Budgam in 2009. It’s gotten etched in memories,” Manzoor reminisced.
From the push-ups to pummeling the bowlers, the wonder boy from Sumbal town, has scripted the history of his own while tasting the success at such a young age.
The bold basher like Manzoor has entertained the spectators with his massive six-hitting ability. His coaches have hailed him as the next Gayle storm from the hamlet.
“Cricketer like me, playing with top-notch players is in itself a massive advantage. They suggested me to play my natural game,” Manzoor pointed.
The burly Manzoor has set the horizon to deliver both with the bat and a ball for the IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab.
This time around, he became only Kashmiri cricketer in the eleventh edition—to seal the deal at the last minute.
The clock struck past 4:00 PM at the two-day auction on January 28 in Bengaluru which was about to culminate when Manzoor’s name happened to make an entry.
Manzoor is enjoying what he now sees as the massive phase of his life and eventually the professional career. He was surprised to become the part of the Punjab-force in the IPL where he will be sharing the dressing room with swashbuckling Chris Gayle, audacious Yuvraj Singh, and brute force David Miller.
“It is going to be a great opportunity for me to learn from them. If I get a chance to play my ultimate motive will be to lead my team to the victory,” Manzoor believes.
However, the right-handed batter Manzoor is aiming to dictate his terms in the impending IPL season after he became the last player to be sold during the jaw-dropping auction.
Interestingly, when the bidding process on the second auction day was going on Manzoor was simultaneously participating in the trials for the domestic 50-over format (Vijay Hazare Trophy) in Jammu. Meanwhile, when he reached his room he turned on the television set to much of his delight.
Eventually, he witnessed himself becoming the last player to make a star entry just like one of the Hollywood proportions in utter disbelief.
“I was delighted to see my name was picked at the last moment. I have no words to express my happiness over my selection in the domestic Twenty20 professional league,” Manzoor stated.
So, where this outstanding turnaround took place at the last minute? A political gimmick on influx? Absolutely not, it was Manzoor’s dedication and prayers from his parents for his untiring efforts. He has worked extremely hard for the pair of bowling spikes, cricketing gears after shouldering the burden—to meet the financial requirements of the family from time-to-time as well.
Quite often, Manzoor has found it sweet and surreal when he saw the red-ball sailing over the boundary ropes from time-and-time again. He has set the fresh narrative to describe himself on a feather-bed in the impending mega-league.
“I have also played for Narabal Sozeith team. They’ve always been humble towards me. Whenever I required anything they turned out to be the saviours. Credit must also go to them. Rest it depends on a player to work extremely hard and prove himself at the elite-level,” he maintained.
In addition, the Gounchipora cricket ground in Sumbal, has been Manzoor’s home ground. There he created a plethora of records which has simultaneously gone unnoticed.
“In my early days, I took cricket seriously. Usually, I did practice at my home ground (Gounchipora), It has been hard toil for me,” Manzoor said.
The big-hitting Manzoor hit the jackpot for the eleventh edition of IPL – to shoulder the responsibility.
Sheer hard graft, Manzoor served as a security guard for an automobile showroom in the summer capital Srinagar of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) State. However, he lived his cricketing dream on the fringes while representing some reputed local clubs in the Kashmir region.
“I have played for Kashmir Gymkhana, City Reds, ACC, United Cricket Club, Srinagar (UCC),” Manzoor recalled.
Electrifying with the bat- Manzoor aka Pandav is an obvious adjective for defying the arithmetic solely with his batting prowess in a nutshell.
Well, at times in the past he made the hitting ridiculously easy with his wide array of shots owing to his batting trait.
“I am looking forward to impressing the selectors for the top-flight cricket. Especially in India, where it is the most watched sport as compared to other sports,” Manzoor attested.
The promising young sensation Manzoor believes he has reaped the rewards for focusing on the game to improve and kept on plugging the loopholes while helping his family as he is the elder in the family among eight siblings.
One of eight children raised in a lesser-known village, Manzoor has followed the traditional Ashes like many others. He developed the fascination for the game while listening to the running commentary on a transistor, back home at a tender age of eight.
There has been an interesting facet of Manzoor’s life and his striking similarity where he had earned INR 360 for the tree pruning to feed his family.
The promising figure could do ‘Boom Boom’ Shahid Afridi and Universe Boss Chris Gayle simultaneously when he is in some sort of a mood.
“I start playing cricket at the age of 12. I have always backed myself through thick and thin and of course credit must go to Almighty Allah for showering His blessings upon me,” Manzoor maintained.
The batting all-rounder imposes powerful physique while facing the bowlers which helped him to boost his morale on the field.
The broad shoulders of Manzoor will make you believe he could hit the ball hard and long and subsequently out of the park. It has simultaneously been his highlight throughout the local competition back in the valley.
The 24-year-old Manzoor evokes modern-day big-hitting prowess Chris Lynn’s innate acuity and self-assurance when it comes to middling the leather.
“As a beginner, I learn many tidbits of the game from the senior players. Insha’Allah in future, I have to learn much more. So far, it has been just a beginning. I am pretty much excited about the journey thus far,” joyful Manzoor said.
On numerous occasions, Manzoor launched the balls literally into the orbit—to set the stadia on fire and has revived the contest in his own way.
Kind of a burgeoning specimen from Kashmir, Manzoor, who clears fence with ease like Gayle has extended his arms to set the stadium on fire while being at his premium best.
“I have been following the footsteps of the veteran all-rounder Kapil Dev. Well, haven’t seen him live during a match, but he has been my inspiration since my childhood. I am looking forward to finishing things off like Dhoni (MS Dhoni),” Manzoor cited.
Since 2010, Manzoor has shuttled over 50 miles-a-day to and fro – to reach the stadium. He warmed-up before rushing to his routine practice which now extended to early morning and extended sessions.
“For the practice, I used to travel to Srinagar stadium once or twice in a week (in early days),” Manzoor quipped.
With practice breeding, confidence and performances from professionals have had simultaneously revitalized the distinct outfits when they were down and out. This time around, Manzoor has a mega opportunity- to prove his credentials while facing the ace cricketers in the celebrated league.
The narrative of Twenty20 specialist Manzoor doesn’t end with batting enigma. Essentially, he could bowl and field to make his worth count. His prime focus has been on his fitness.
“I would be giving my 100 percent whether it is fielding, batting or bowling,” enthusiastic Manzoor remarked.
The bigger picture of Manzoor’s story has been the fascination for cricket which has taken him to the Leh region. The destination where you could more talk about the altitude than willow or the leather as an object in demand.
With double tons under his belt in the local competition, Manzoor went on to deliver upon every opportunity he has grabbed. Scratch that, he has made it more sort of a habit.
“I started off with at domestic level, locals loved my game. They enjoy and appreciated every bit of it and I am looking forward to deliver according to the expectations. Concurrently, I am playing with United Cricket Club (UCC), Manzoor signs off.
The little-known Manzoor, who played some scorching innings across Kashmir region over mats. In particular, might not have come to the technical aspect of the Kookaburra ball. But he has been binging on the opportunities to play at the highest level. He would definitely want to perform according to the expectations with full freedom.
As Kashmir will somewhat witness and cherish its own Gayle. The next step would be the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) scouting the untapped talent. In the behest, to provide such rising stars with a platform to make case for the international fold. And for a player like Manzoor, he won’t forget the date of 28th January 2018. It has generously hogged him a limelight.
Owing to the abundant skill, literally right into the video game zone, Manzoor would be aiming to deliver and evolve himself in the top-flight cricket as soon as possible.
Allied with some sheer talent, Manzoor is been described as a naturally gifted cricketer.
Concluding, strong force to reckon with the bat, Manzoor is off to the base—to start the practice with strong-looking Punjab. The KXIP will be kicking off their home campaign against Delhi Daredevils on April 8 in Mohali.
The immensely talented Manzoor Ahmad Dar, who bosses the game, is a superstar in waiting.
The IPL season eleven will kick off on April 7 at iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The reigning champions Mumbai Indians will take on MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings.