Unknown to overnight star: Meet J&K's latest 17-year-old pace sensation- Rasikh Salam
The morning of Wednesday brought a new sparkle to Ashmuji - a small village in South Kashmir's Kulgam, as a 17-year-old boy from the place made his debut for Jammu and Kashmir Senior Cricket Team, to become the first boy from the whole district to achieve this feat.
Rasikh Salam - youngest son of Ab Salam Dar, a teacher by profession- started playing cricket at an early age just like any other kid does, unaware that this bat and ball could one day become his dream story.
A right-arm fast bowler, way ahead of his age-group, Rasikh had tried his hand in J&K U-19 team last year but was ignored by the selectors. Disappointed by the rejection, he had thought that he might end up not playing at any level, yet the love for the game kept motivating him to work harder.
A year after, destiny made him the overnight cricket star of the state. Rasikh,who had played no state-level cricket before, made a direct entry to the J&K senior team in Vijay Hazare Trophy- a premier domestic tournament of the country.
He was completely unknown just a few months ago, yet as soon as the Indian star cricketer, Irfan Pathan- the current mentor-cum player of J&K team- started his stint with J&K cricket in August, Rasikh's life took a turnaround.
After performing extremely well in a district-level tournament, Rasikh was nominated to attend a talent hunt camp, which was to be headed by Irfan Pathan,
"Before attending the camp, I had seen Irfan Pathan on the television screen. I was very excited to see and meet him," Rasikh recalls.
As the proceedings of the camp started at SK Stadium, Srinagar, something magical happened which even Rasikh hadn't thought of,
"When I was given the ball, I told myself that this is the day to prove myself. I just bowled three balls and Irfan called me, he said, "Hey, how can somebody of such a young age bowl this quick, what's your name?" As I replied, he took me with him to Parvez bhaiya (Parvez Rasool) and asked me to meet him after the conclusion of the camp" says Rasikh in the jubilation.
Thereafter, he was seen working with Irfan Pathan and J&K coach Milaph Mwande in the nets and taking his useful tips,
"Irfan Bhai, Parvez Bhaiyya, and Milaph sir helped me a lot. I used to practice with them in the nets and that made me an entirely different bowler," Rasikh claims.
"During the shorter period of my reign here, I have been able to recognize a player who surely will make it big. It is surprising that he hasn't played any state-level cricket yet," Irfan Pathan had said about Rasikh in an interview.
Rasikh was named in the J&K squad for the 50-over tournament- Vijay Hazare Trophy and he finally made his debut in the seventh match against Rajasthan on Tuesday, which J&K won by three wickets. He took his debut scalp by removing MK Lomror in his sixth over and finished with the match figures of 10-0-54-1.
"He (Rasikh) bowls the international standard slower-ball. He impressed one and all with his flamboyant bowling and fielding," state's lone international cricketer and J&K Parvez Rasool said.
"He is a very talented cricketer, which could be well sorted as he is playing for the senior team at the age of 17. We see a future star in him," Parvez further said about Rasikh.