India beat Aussie in T20 for blind opener

Bangalore, Dec 2 (IANS) They are visually impaired, but don't have a problem in 'seeing' or hearing the ball to hit it for a boundary or loft it for a six or running singles or twos between the wickets.

In a dramatic opening match of the T20 World Cup for blind Sunday, India beat Australia by 215 runs in the 20-over format at the Central College grounds in the city centre here.

In other three matches played during the day, Pakistan beat England by 167 runs; Sri Lanka defeated South Africa by seven wickets and Nepal beat Bangladesh by nine wickets.

Nine countries -- Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies -- are playing in the 12-day tournament that will have two semi-finals Dec 12 and a final Dec 13 after 39 matches over the next 10 days.

Though the rules of the game are the same as in the regular matches professional cricketers play, the pitch length is 50 yards instead of 70 and the 150 gm white ball is made of plastic mould with bearings inside for making rattling noise when flung towards the batsman.

"The players are classified into three categories - totally blind as B1, partially blind as B2 and with partial vision B2. Each team of 11 members comprises four blind, three partially blind and four with partial vision. The wicketkeeper is a B3 player," tournament organizer Kishore Joseph told IANS here.

Interestingly, for every run scored by the blind, one more is added. As a result, a hit to the boundary will be counted as eight and a sixer 12.

The Indian team got off to a flying start, scoring a mammoth 341 runs for two wickets and restricting the Aussies to 126 runs for eight wickets in the stipulated 20 overs.

Indian batter Prakash Jayaramaiha, who is partially blind (B2), whacked a stroke-filled 173 in 76 balls with 33 fours and two mighty sixers. He was ably assisted by vice-captain Ajay Kumar Reddy (B3) with 52 from 26 balls and Ketan Patel (B1) scoring 50 out of 22 balls.

Jayaramaiah, who was declared man of the match, and Reddy also set a record 206-run opening partnership.

Setting a massive 342-run target, Indian team rattled the Aussies with five sensational run-outs and a stumping, reposing confidence of its coach Patrick in their fielding abilities.

"Direct throws from the outfield right onto the stumps set a lesson for their regular and more popular counterparts. Subash Bhoya, who is B1, (fully blind) rattled the timber with his pincer sharp throws," Joseph said.

The Aussies, down under, failed to put up even a decent fight against the tight bowling by Ganesh Bushara (B3) with his clever change of pace and captain Shekar Naik (B3) of Karnataka, who effected three run-outs.

Earlier, legendary wicket-keeper Syed Kirmani called the toss for the opening tie and said he was looking forward to the Indian team lifting the cup.

India next play England Tuesday.

In the other match, England opted to field after winning toss, allowing Pakistan to capitalise on batting first.

Pakistan, like India in the opening tie, hit a whopping 329 runs losing a solitary wicket, while England the target (330) too still to chase and could score 163 runs for seven wickets in 20 overs.

Pakistan's man of the match Nissar Ali (B2) smashed 153 off 65 balls, hitting 26 fours and two sixers over the grounds. The opening partnership yielded 216 runs.

The tournament is sponsored by the country's premier state-run State Bank of India (SBI) and organised by Samarthanam Trust for the disabled, a non-government organization.

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