Indian team celebrates after winning the ODI Blind Cricket World Cup match at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Sharjah: The Blind Cricket World Cup final between India and Pakistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium was fought as fiercely as the usual India-Pakistan One-day International cricket matches on Saturday.

Players in both then elevens are divided into three categories such as B1, B2, and B3.

A minimum of four will be totally blind players (B1); three has to be partially blind players (B2); and a maximum of four partially sighted players (B3) can be in the team.

The ball used is significantly larger than the regular cricket ball and is filled with ball bearings that provide audible cues.

Sweep shot

The batsman hits the ball listening to the sound of the ball using the 'sweep shot', in order to provide maximum chance of the bat hitting the ball and the bowlers have to bowl under-arm.

For the final, Pakistan’s legendary batsman and former International Cricket Council president Zaheer Abbas and former Indian wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani, who is also the Patron of India’s blind cricket was present.

Speaking to Gulf News, Zaheer Abbas said: “It is great that these blind cricketers have the heart to play this game. Cricket is a game that everybody likes so it has become popular among blind people.

Kirmani feels the blind cricket needs more encouragement.

“I think they are a great source of inspiration and motivation to any normal disciple of sport. They should be ahead of all of us so that we get inspired.

"Their anticipation is based on the sound of the ball, there are three categories and some of them cannot even see at all.

"They deserved more publicity but they getting to play at an international stadium like Sharjah is the least encouragement they can get from their respective associations. 

"The International Cricket Council also supporting this event and it is a big boost.”

Pakistan stormed into the final after defeating Sri Lanka by 156 runs in the semi-final on Wednesday. India beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in the semi-final to set up a title clash with Pakistan. 

Most of the group matches were held at the Ajman Oval cricket ground and MCC Ground.

India, who are the defending champions had beaten Pakistan by seven wickets in their group match on January 13.

UAE’s ICC Umpires Iftikhar Ali and Akbar Ali officiated the final. 

Speaking to Gulf News, Iftikhar said: “It was difficult in the initial overs for us as it was our first game in this type of match.

The enthusiasm in them to play, though most don’t even see, is remarkable. Akbar Ali said: “It was a totally different experience for us as the ball has to bounce twice before reaching the batsman and to monitor it wasn’t easy.”