The hard work that Parvez Rasool put in under difficult conditions has finally borne fruit as the 24-year-old, an off-spinner and a useful lower order batsman, has been picked in India's new-look 15-man squad for five one-day internationals in Zimbabwe from July 24 to August 3. Rasool's selection is also a giant leap for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in mainstream Indian sports.
Rasool, who hails from Bij Behara town in the southern Kashmir valley district of Anantnag, comes from a family of cricketers and has represented J&K from the under-14s level. His elder brother Asif played two T20s for J&K in 2009, and his father opened the batting for Anantnag. Rasool took to the game watching Abdul Qayuum, one of Kashmir's best known players, rise through the ranks to play for North Zone.
Rasool was J&K's best player in the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season by a distance - he scored 594 runs at 54 with two centuries, and took 33 wickets at 18.09 to finish as the third-highest wicket-taker among spinners in the tournament.
Rasool gets maiden call-up, Kohli to lead India in Zimbabwe
On his selection, Rasool admitted he was expecting a call-up to the national squad for the Zimbabwe series after the season he enjoyed. "Not that I was overconfident but I thought if they (selectors) decide to rest a few regulars, then Zimbabwe (tour) would be my best chance to become an international cricketer. And with the kind of consistent season I had, I think I was just in expecting a call-up," Rasool told ESPNcricinfo.
Rasool has plenty of firsts to his credit - the first J&K player to be picked for India A, the first from the state to compete against an international side and also the first J&K cricketer to earn an IPL contract with Pune Warriors.
In February 2013, Rasool had figures of 7-45 against the touring Australians in a warm-up match in Chennai ahead of the Test series.
Rasool, who made his first-class debut for J&K in the 2008-09 season, has played 17 first-class matches, scoring 1003 runs and taking 46 wickets. He was named in the India A squad for a tour game against Australia in February this year, and also played his first IPL season for Pune Warriors. He made his List A debut that season as well and has scored 623 runs at an average of 31.15 and taken 18 wickets with an economy rate of 4.42 in 25 matches.
Reacting to Rasool's selection, former India captain and J&K coach Bishan Singh Bedi said the 24-year-old deserved the call-up and he has the temperament to succeed at the highest level. Bedi told news agency PTI that Rasool should play his natural game as he is technically a very sound off-break bowler and make the most of the opportunity instead of thinking about competing with Ravichandran Ashwin, who has been rested for the Zimbabwe series.