My getting Padma Shri would help to promote blind cricket: Shekhar Naik

| Updated: Jan 27, 2017 22:50 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan. 27 (ANI): Shekhar Naik, former captain of the blind cricket Indian team, who is set to be conferred with Padma Shri, says that the coveted award will serve as a big source of inspiration for blind cricketers and would give the due recognition to their game. "It is for the first time that a blind cricketer is receiving Padma Shri. It would serve as a big motivation for other blind cricketers because earlier there was not so much of recognition to blind cricket, but after winning the World Cup, we are getting the due recognition," Naik told ANI in an exclusive conversation. Naik was the captain of the team which won the T20 World Cup in 2012 and the Blind Cricket World Cup held in South Africa in 2014. "These award and support from the government would certainly help us and provide a lot of encouragement to blind cricketers," he added. Apart from Naik, Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli, discus thrower Vikas Gowda, Paralympic gold medallist Thangavellu Mariyappan, Paralympic silver medalist Deepa Malik, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, wrestler Sakshi Malik and Indian hockey captain PR Sreejesh are the other seven sports personalities who will receive Padma Shri. When asked about his inspiration, Naik said, "Blind cricket is only different from normal cricket in the sense that we have to play under arm. Playing cricket provides us with the hope that helps us to lead our lives also," he said with a sense of pride in his eyes. Talking about the preparation for the upcoming world T20 Blind Cricket World Cup starting from January 30, the cricketer said that the team is preparing very well under the new coach. Naik, with a career span of 13 years with 32 centuries to his credit in 67 matches played in all formats of cricket, also asserted that whenever they go on the field, their focus is only to play good cricket. Ten teams---India, South Africa, Australia, England, New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal---will fight it out for the title, with the final slated for February 12. It is for the first time that the World Cup matches will take place in multiple cities across India and will be played in some of best grounds like the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Apart from Bengaluru, the matches will be played in Delhi, Faridabad, Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Vijaywada, Hyderabad, Indore, Anantpur and Bhubaneswar. (ANI)