Suresh Raina Image Credit: PTI

Dubai: Former Indian cricketer Suresh Raina has come forward to promote cricket in Jammu and Kashmir by providing an opportunity for the underprivileged children of the Union Territory.

Raina, who recently retired from international cricket, said that his intention behind the initiative is to find out the talented youngsters or children from various parts including schools' colleges and rural areas of the Union Territory.

"My intention is finding out the talented youngsters or children from various parts including schools' colleges and rural areas of J&K. I would like to use this opportunity to find the right talented children and polish their skills and contribute to the national team as a treasure for future cricket teams," said Raina in a letter written to J&K Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh.

Talking to ANI exclusively from Dubai, the former cricketer said," Since long I have represented India as a proud Indian cricketer. I have got an opportunity to be India's ambassador in the game of cricket to the entire world. Now the time has come for me to give it back to society and the people who gave me all their love, support, and blessings all these years."

"Since my ancestors belong to Kashmir and I myself feel deeply connected to my roots in the valley as a Kashmiri Pandit originally, I felt the need to inculcate strong sportsmanship, cricketing spirit, and values for our children and youth in Jammu and Kashmir," he added.

"That is what made me write to J&K DGP Dilbag Singh ji and SSP Anantnag Sandeep Chaudhary ji sharing a proposal for this cricketing opportunity for underprivileged and rural area children from Jammu and Kashmir," Raina, who is gearing up for the IPL further said.

Raina, who played 18 Tests, 226 ODIs, and 78 T20Is for India, said that he plans to take forward this idea in order to make cricket a strong passion for the youth.

"It's a humble beginning and I plan to take it forward to make cricket a strong passion for the youth and find success in the sport with the right guidance and motivation. Since I have seen struggle and hardships throughout my journey, I can relate to the hardships they might be facing amidst continuous terrorism and terror violence," Raina told ANI.

"While Uttar Pradesh is my Karma Bhoomi, I also feel Jammu and Kashmir is equally my land and it's people are my own brothers and sisters. I hope I can contribute to make it a nationwide campaign beginning from Jammu and Kashmir," the left-handed batsman added.

Raina will now be seen in action for Chennai Super Kings in the 13th edition of the IPL slated to begin from September 19 in the UAE.

Talking about the same, Raina said," sports is finally happening, it was about giving people entertainment back home, these are challenging times so the game will help in bringing some sort of change. It will help to bring positivity. It will be challenging this year but in the end, it's about spreading smiles back home."