Shekar Naik of Shimoga, Karnataka, was born blind. Introduced to cricket in his school days, he didn’t let his condition deter him from conquering the sport. After rigorous training and much hardship, Shekar’s life changed in the year 2000, when, during a school tournament, he scored 136 runs off 46 balls. This got him a spot in the Karnataka State Cricket Team for the Blind. Later, in the final match against Kerala, he smashed 249 runs on his own, leading Karnataka to victory.
Shekar hasn’t looked back since, having won countless matches for his state, and later for the country. In 2006, although his team lost the World Cup finals to Pakistan, Shekar was declared the best batsman and Man of the Tournament for his consistent performance. In 2010, he was made captain of the Indian team. Two years later, the team won the first ever T20 World Cup for the blind. Shekar scored 134 runs off 58 balls in the finals against England.
His journey has been far from easy. Cricket for the visually disabled in India is not only a personal struggle, but also a financial struggle. He told Sports Keeda in an interview, “The BCCI is the richest board in the world and if they could support us, and give us even 3% of the revenue, we will grow like anything.” He plans to coach visually challenged aspirants in the future, groom talent, and provide assistance to all those who need it.
Shekar’s mother is his greatest inspiration. “My mother was also partially blind. She told me that you have to do something in life. She is my inspiration,” he told The Cricket Association for the Blind. Shekhar finished his bachelor’s degree and is married to Roopa, who is also partially blind. They met at the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled where they developed a liking for each other and eventually tied the knot. The couple is blessed with a daughter.
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