Sachin Tendulkar’s Kashmir visit to boost local crafts, bat industry

February 21, 2024
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Shah Rafi owns the Art & Craft Bazaar at Dhobiwan in Kunzar village on Gulmarg-Srinagar road.

Srinagar, Feb 21 (IANS) Shah Rafi owns the Art & Craft Bazaar at Dhobiwan in Kunzar village on Gulmarg-Srinagar road. He is still rubbing his eyes to believe that the cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar visited his place on Wednesday.

Shah Rafi told IANS, “Trust me, I couldn’t believe for a while that Sachin Tendulkar was standing in front of me!

“When his vehicle stopped outside our art bazaar, initially I thought it must be some buyer. But, what I saw was beyond my wildest expectation.

“He is the darling of people all over the World. He is a living legend. I always dreamt of seeing him in first person and today Allah fulfilled that prayer. In school my classmates called me ‘Tendulkar’ because I played the bottom hand like him. He was my ideal and today he stood in front of me.

“He had tea with us. His wife, Anjali and daughter Sara accompanied him. Not only that he encouraged, interacted, and appreciated our shawl and carpet weavers whom he saw making their products, he also showed keen interest in their work and inquired about every detail of labour and artistry that goes into making these handicrafts.

“Immediately after he left our place, news had spread all across the country. I got calls from people in Mumbai, Gujarat and from other places in the country.

“The callers showed interest in seeing and buying our products. But, it is not just about business that we are excited about. His presence has helped the confidence and commitment of our artisans and that is the greatest and the most precious gift he gave us today”.

Earlier on his arrival in Kashmir, Sachin visited the MJ sports factory in Chersoo village of Awantipora in south Kashmir. Since his visit to this factory, owner, Muhammad Shaheen Parray is on cloud nine.

“The god of cricket came to our factory. We were excited beyond words. He saw Kashmir willow cricket bats at our factory and smiled.

“He said his sister gifted him the first cricket bat with which he played and that was a Kashmir willow cricket bat!

“He asked us to show him our brand first. ‘Show me your brand and then I will tell you what I can do for your bats,’ he said. We gave him a cricket bat and he held it in his hands, jerked it, swung it in the air, moved front foot and back foot with the bat and then said that it was a very good product.

“He autographed around five bats and believe me, all of them have been bought by cricket enthusiasts except one which we have kept as a souvenir at the factory.

“Sachin said he played with British willow bats most of the time in his great career, but at the same time said the quality of our bats is not inferior to the British willow bats.

“He has promised to promote the Kashmir bat industry and our factory. His coming has been a divine intervention for the local bat manufacturing industry that has suffered tremendously during the last 40 years.

“The god of cricket was here and since then my mobile phone has not stopped ringing. Buyers, promoters, Sachin fans, cricket players and also the common man from all over the country and even from abroad have been calling.

“The one question most of them ask is how did Sachin Tendulkar land up at our factory and decide to promote Kashmir willow bat industry?

“I have only one answer for all of them. Allah sent him to us so that the local cricket bat industry stands alongside the best bat manufacturers in the World,” Shaheen said, bubbling with confidence.

Sachin Tendulkar is now set to create another World record, putting Kashmir willow bats alongside in the gallery of the best cricket bats available in the World. Would that happen? With a magician like the little master of the game, it can happen.

–IANS

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