While most of the Kashmiris are familiar with the male cricket stars like Parvez Rasool, Abid Nabi and others, it is the incredible cricket journey of Kashmiri female cricketer Jasia Akhtar that has gone unheard.While most of the Kashmiris are familiar with the male cricket stars like Parvez Rasool, Abid Nabi and others, it is the incredible cricket journey of Kashmiri female cricketer Jasia Akhtar that has gone unheard.Hailing from South Kashmir’s Shopian district, Jasia has been representing Punjab in the top women national level cricket tournaments organized by BCCI since 2013. It was her incredible cricket feat and talent that attracted the eyes of Punjab selectors and since then she has been regular in the side.Jasia is top cricket star for Punjab team and has performed with bat in every match she has played. Jasia joined Punjab cricket team in year 2013 when she was spotted by Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) sports director while playing in Inter-University cricket tournament for Kashmir University. In the match Jasia scored 65 against GNDU.“Ranjeet sir offered me place in GNDU for completing my Masters degree and also offered every sports facility. He even told me that I could play cricket for Punjab at national level as according to him I could fit in any team on the basis of my performance,” Jasia said
“I joined University and then one day went to play district level cricket event in Punjab. In my first outing I smashed 206 run knock and in second match scored 65. The cricket officials of Punjab and selectors told me that I don’t need to play more district level matches as it is meant for rookie cricketers. I was directly selected for the camp and then for the Punjab state cricket team. They keep me in team even if I miss coaching camp like it happened last year due to unrest in Kashmir. It is the kind of support and respect they give to players,” Jasia said.After joining Punjab cricket team in year 2013, Jasia has been top performer for them in one-Dayers and T20’s. So far she has played around 40-matches for the Punjab and is top run getter for them. In year 2015 she scored knocks of 65, 65, 47, 48 and 50 in the five matches played. She was in top five T20 scorers at all India level.This year the Kashmiri cricketer again excelled with the bat for Punjab in both one day event as well as T20. In the One-day match she scored 56 not out against Andra Pradesh while her scored was 45, 35, 30 and 32 in the four T20 matches played.
Jasia has so far been selected twice in North Zone team. In 2012 she was selected for North Zone side while representing J&K and in 2013 while representing Punjab. Apart from this Jasia is only woman cricketer from J&K who has played in Bangladesh.“My coach told me that I am getting offer to play in Dhaka Cricket League for Rupali Bank. Initially I was reluctant but the coach insisted and told me that they will give me every facility and will also give money. I accepted the offer and played 10 matches for Ruplai Bank and we went upto final in which we lost to Muhammedan club. For playing in league I earned dollar 3000 per match,” Jasia said.However, playing in Dhaka League cost Jasia dearly as she missed selection for Indian national team.“I did not know that for playing in Dhaka I need to take permission from BCCI. I was on the selectors radar and due to my Bangladesh outing I missed the chance to represent India,” Jasia laments.
“I was involved in other games but then I was encouraged for cricket by Gulshan Madam, Sakeena and Abida. I got instant success in cricket and I helped J&K Under-19 cricket team to win gold medal in National School Games. I think it is the only gold medal for J&K in cricket at school national till date,” she says.When asked whether she will play for Punjab or home State next season, Jasia said, “I am yet decide about that. But the fact is that Punjab team comprises of professional and we get quality facilities there. In JKCA we don’t have very good side and the facility is too inferior. The fact is that I learned cricket basics in Punjab. I was taught basics of cricket by Punjab Cricket Association coach R Basanta. I used to train daily from 6 a.m to 10 a.m. That kind of commitment and hard work lacks here in Kashmir”.