Among the surprise picks in this year’s Indian Premier League auction was Manzoor Dar, the cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir, who fetched a contract worth Rs 20 lakh from the Kings XI Punjab franchise.
Known for his striking 100-metre sixes in the local cricket scene, this 24-year-old batsman from Kashmir has gone from working as a daily wager earning Rs 60 to his IPL dream. Dar, popularly known as Manzoor Pandav in the Valley, now foresees a better life for his seven siblings, father (also a labourer) and mother living in Shiganpora Nowgam Sonawari area of South Kashmir’s Bandipora district.
“I have studied up to Class 12th. Due to a financial crunch, I could not continue my studies. I worked as a labourer, and till date, I am engaged in furniture work. To make ends meet, I worked as security guard for Tata Motors Pvt Ltd for Rs 2500/- per month,” he told a local news agency.
As the only player from the state selected to play in the IPL, Dar’s achievements not only resonated with the village but the entire state.
In a region where the situation remains grim with the people dealing with a surge in militancy and a heavy crackdown by the security forces, this news has brought temporary joy to many. “I spoke to my mother a short while ago. She told me some 30,000 people came to my house to congratulate her. It is incredibly moving to receive such love,” he told PTI.
“I have been building the house back home for the past three years. It still doesn’t have doors and windows, but hopefully, I would be able to get the work done now. I will also use the money for the treatment of my ailing mother,” Dar added.
At this moment, Dar is preparing for trials to the state team for the prestigious Vijay Hazare Trophy next month. Speaking to CNS, however, Dar says that his real big break came when he played in Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament last year, where he had a couple of decent performances for his state.
Ever since he picked up a bat, Dar was a natural at hitting big sixes. Finding ways to make money after finishing school to take care of his family, a local coach advised him to play club cricket. “It (the Kashmir Knights Cricket Club) is not a club but a family. I am really thankful to my lifelong friends including Showkat Ahmed, Bashir Ahmed and Latif Ahmed. My family is very poor. My friends provided financial help from time to time and sometimes even arranged bus fare for me,” he told the local news agency.
Despite his new-found recognition, he found it hard to juggle between his job as a watchman at night and playing the game the following morning.
“However, it was the only way I could keep playing. The aim was to play as many matches as possible because it meant more money. I clearly remember I did not have shoes or cricket gear when I played my first club game,” he recalled.
Things began to change for Manzoor in 2011 when he underwent trials for the state team. He finally made his debut in January 2017. Till date, Dar has nine T20s and four List A games since he made his debut for Jammu and Kashmir.
The man from Bandipora district also has fond memories of his time in Leh where he struck 240 runs in just 59 deliveries at the local ground, hitting 23 sixes. Social media in the state caught onto this performance, and the hype surrounding him began.
We wish him all the best!