New Delhi: His dreams took flight amid gunfire and bloodshed but, Parveez Rasool, the first cricketer from the valley to be picked for the India 'A' team, was so enamoured by the 22-yard strip that he can't remember the violence that scarred the beauty of Kashmir.
The 23-year-old all-rounder appeared for India 'A' in a practice match against England XI on Sunday. The feat redeemed the youngster, who was detained by Bangalore police for questioning in 2009 in connection with suspected presence of explosives at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
He was, however, given a clean chit a few days later. "It was a not a great thing to happen, whether by any mistake or an error in the machine or whatever... I didn't spend too much time thinking over it," Rasool told PTI.
"At the end of the day I thought that I am a cricketer and my job is to play. This thing could have happened with anyone for that matter and unfortunately it was me on that fateful day," added Rasool, who hails from Bijbehara in South Kashmir's Anantnag district, once considered to be a hot-bed of militancy.
The modest cricketer is grappling to come to terms with the new-found fame and is more than happy to narrate his journey with enthusiasm to everyone that rings him up with a congratulatory hello.
"Last few days have been out of this world. It is an amazing feeling. My phone has been bombarded with congratulatory messages and people want to know about me. All this seems so surreal," said Rasool.
Rasool conceded 16 runs from his three overs in a winning cause against England in a practice game.
Asked if the sound of bullets ever distracted him from cricket, the all-rounder came up with a curt "no". "I don't even remember one such incident. My focus has always been on cricket," said Rasool who earlier had a chance to hone his skills alongside India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Rasool, who was in the India 'A' squad for the practice match against England at the Air Force Ground in Palam, was summoned by the Indian team management to bowl to the likes of Dhoni and Virat Kohli ahead of the side's third and final ODI against Pakistan on Sunday.
"It was a great feeling. I can't express it in words. I bowled at Dhoni and he offered me some tips also. Sharing Indian team's dressing room and being their part... It was certainly one of those days which I won't forget throughout my life.
"Being in that team bus... it really was amazing," said the off-spinner, who bagged 33 wickets in the Ranji Trophy this season.
Rasool also amassed 594 runs from seven matches at a healthy average of 54 runs per innings. He certainly has shown a lot of promise but there is still a lot more to prove.
"I have seen him before. He has the talent, but the thing is that you need to transform that talent into performance against a quality side," India 'A' coach, Lalchand Rajput, said about the J&K cricketer.
The youngster, though, is confident that it is just the beginning of a journey.
"Like any other cricketer, I too want to play for India. I know I have to be much more consistent and need to work much harder. But I am sure that if I play well, I can make it big," a confident Rasool said.
When asked what if he would not have got a chance to showcase his skills against England, Rasool said, "There are 14 players in the squad and I know only 11 can play. I would not have felt let down. Instead it would have motivated me to do even better in future."
Coming from a family of cricketers, motivation was never lacking for the talented cricketer. But what worries him is the lack of infrastructure for the sport in the state.
"We don't have enough facilities there. There are only two turf wickets in valley, one is at Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium and the other one is at Kashmir University in Srinagar.
"Apart from this we have one more turf wicket and that is in Jammu. We have got talented cricketers but they need proper facilities to evolve. I hope (Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association) JKCA will look into this matter," he said.
The all-rounder also rued the apathy towards the valley's sportspersons when it comes to education. Rasool said there was no provision in the Kashmir University's rules to help state-level cricketers to appear in the exams as per their calender of events.
"I have myself suffered because of that. I lost two years because I was busy with my cricket commitments and the university did not allow me to appear for examinations at a later stage," Rasool, a graduate from the Kashmir University said.
He thanked his childhood coaches Abdul Qayoom, once a poster boy of J&K cricket, and Rajesh Dhar for his success. He also stated that former India captain Bishan Sigh Bedi had a huge role in his selection in the national side.
Rasool tried to underplay the recent fallout between some of the valley's cricketers and Bedi, calling it a "misunderstanding".
"It was nothing major. There was some misunderstanding between players and coach which has been sorted out," he said.
Asked how he spend his time away from cricket, Rasool said he keeps himself busy by playing club cricket, which includes Om Nath Sood tournament in Delhi.