“Each team has 11 players. A team can chose between legging or fielding. The bowler rolls down the football-sized ball using an under-arm action and the legsman hits the ball to score single, double, triple by running between the wickets. Also just like in cricket, there are fours and sixes.

“A legsman is declared out if he touches the ball twice or kicks it with the wrong leg, caught, run out or hit wicket. A player has to tell the umpire in advance as to which leg he will use to hit the ball. The team that scores more runs are declared the winners.”

Currently, the sport is played only in four countries — India, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.

In India, the nationals are a regular fixture. India were the winners of the 1st Indo Nepal T-10 Leg Cricket Series in 2013 and runners-up at the 1st South Asian Champi-onship at Nepal in 2016.

Asked about his journey, Ray shares, “My interest in leg cricket began in 2013. I had finished my Class X examinations when my school mates and physical education teacher asked me to try this game. I used to play badminton but found leg cricket very interesting. It was the beginning of my journey into a sport which is very intriguing.”

Soon, accolades begun to pour in and Ray decided to make the sport his profession.

Recalls Ray, “I made my debut in the 2nd senior national T10 championship in Ambala in May 2013. The opposition team batted first and put up 112 runs on board. I was batting at no. 3 and by the time, I got my chance, we were two down with 73 runs yet to score in last five overs.

I decided to attack and went for the long shots. We won with two overs still to go and I got my first half century in just 15 balls. It was the fastest in the sport so far. It was one of the memorable days of my short career and soon, I was named the team captain and we went on to win the 1st Indo Nepal T10 series.”

With opportunities far and few and the game having a distinct flavour to it, leg cricket is almost unknown in the country at present. Though Ray dreams high of making it as “popular as cricket, badminton or football” he also understands that it will require a lot of groundwork.

“Right now, we have a few domestic tournaments in an year but it is not enough. Most of the time we pay from our pockets along with the federation’s help.

“Also, people are hardly aware of it and even if they watch, they need to be educated on what they are viewing since the format is different.

“But I still believe the sport has the ability to reach the masses one day. We are a country that loves cricket and this game has similarities. We are taking slow steps and are doing our bit.”

Ray, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the Raipur University, rues lack of support from the government and sponsors but given the sport’s format and the country’s vast dynamics and shoestring sport budget that are unable to cater to other sport, it seems a near impossible dream.

hemendralal7@gmail.com
hemendralal7@gmail.com

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