"Even if you are failed to hit a boundary in the first innings of your life and something tragic happens, dare to get up and play the second inning of life and if it's destined, you will succeed,” says Sunil Chaudhary (40), captain of the Delhi Challengers team in the Indian Wheelchair Premier League (IWPL) whose third edition was recently held in Dwarka.
‘Where there's a will, there is a way’. While many people have heard this line, it is challenging to rise against the odds. Today we bring to you the story of a person who has brought this proverb into his life. Since childhood, both his legs were affected by Polio but this could not stop Sunil from pursuing his one true passion-Cricket.
Being a huge fan of MS Dhoni, Sunil would wear an MSD T-Shirt and play cricket. Always finding ways to find his place on the cricket field, Sunil persevered. However, it was not easy. He says, "I used to be afraid to play cricket because no one had seen a person sitting in a wheelchair play. When I dared to play among people, they used to look at me with pitiful eyes and used a couple of slow balls when asked. That did not satisfy me and made me feel more depressed."
At the time, Sunil also worked in an NGO. For his love for the sport, he also used to give commentary in local and nation matches. Talking about his entry into wheelchair cricket, Sunil told us how one phone call changed his whole life and he got a chance to live his dream of being a cricketer. The monumental event became the 'second innings of his life' and certainly a successful one.
“One day, I got a call from Nach Baliye 6 runner-up Vinod Thakur (who is handicapped in both legs) for wheelchair cricket and that one call changed my life. I cannot express the happiness that ran through me as I appeared for my trials," he says.
Sunil was selected as a player in the first season of IWPL, but looking at his performance and leadership skills, he was handed over the captaincy after the first season.
IWPL (Indian wheelchair Premier League) started in 2018 on the lines of IPL. The third season was held after a long hiatus caused by Covid-19 on a larger scale. Sunil's team Delhi Challengers appeared as the first runner-up in the league.
Sunil expressed his gratitude to NRF Foundation, an NGO providing free physiotherapy and medical help during IWPL. Sunil says, "During the last match, one medical emergency came and the player needed first aid urgently, NRF team was a great help. Their ambulance is ready at all times to assist a player during injury. Without them, it would have been very difficult to have this league."
Sunil also shared the problem he and other players face during travelling to different locations for matches.
“I want to raise with the government that we never get a vacant coach in trains because of people and luggage. As a result, we are unable to use restrooms. This puts us in a difficult spot as we can’t move once we have sat in our seats. I request to all officials and people to not use the coach reserved for differently-abled people.”