KARNATAKA, India: Vijayalakshmi Moleshwer once staged a hunger strike at home after her father forbade her from playing cricket.
But this was only one of several obstacles in her quest to play for India. The 33-year-old is also totally blind.
“Even in the light, I can’t see anything,” she said. “I can’t see the ball. I just observe the sound of it.”
In itself, learning the sport of blind cricket — and playing it well — is no easy task. But especially for women in India, like Moleshwer and her teammates in the Karnataka blind women’s cricket team, the odds are stacked against them.
The two-part CNA series We Don’t Play Dolly tells the story of the extraordinary women in the team and their determined coach. (Watch the first episode here.)
A “dolly” is an easy catch in cricket and was a term sometimes used to make fun of how women played the game.
But as the series shows, they have surmounted obstacles and battled prejudice to get to where they are today: Second in a national league and, for some hopefuls, having a chance of representing their country.
‘THEIRS IS AT A TOP LEVEL’
In blind cricket, which began in Australia in 1922, the ball is larger than a regular cricket ball and contains ball bearings.
This means it makes a jangling sound, and players must sense where the ball is travelling and its speed by listening for it.
Players must also rely on verbal cues from other players and the umpire, as Karnataka star player Varsha U showed during a match featured in the first episode.
Before she began the first ball of the match, the 21-year-old, who is completely blind, called out to the other players one by one and listened for their response to check that they were ready.
The ball rattled as she raised her arm. With a shout of “play”, she released it, and the ball made its distinctive sound as it rolled along on the ground.