There is no denying the fact that Kashmir is rich in producing quality fast bowlers. From the days of Abdul Qayoom Bagow to the current crop of quickies, J&K has maintained its tradition of quality pacers at various levels. Abid Nabi, Samiullah Beigh, Ram Dayal and Umar Nazir are few names that have given good account of themselves at the big stage.
Zahoor Sofi is another talented quickie who has fared well in whatever chances he has been provided with.
Zahoor made his List A debut back in 2009 following it with first class debut four years later. He has been in and out of the side but hasnt done his reputation any harm whenever he has donned J&K cap.
A medium pacer known for maintaining tight line and length and inducing errors from the batters, Zahoors best performance came in 1014 when he was highest wicket taker in List A in North Zone group. He featured in two four-day games last season snaring seven wickets.
Kashmir Observers Mohsin Kamal caught up with Zahoor Sofi to know more about him and his future endeavours.
KO: What attracted you towards the sport?
SOFI: As is the case with almost all kids in Kashmir, I used to watch cricket on the TV. With the time I started to like the game and it was a close encounter between Pakistan and India that attracted towards cricket a great deal. Initially I started playing cricket at a school level when I was studying in sixth standard.
KO: When did you turn into a pro?
SOFI: It was in 2003, United Cricket Club handed me a contract. It was a real confidence booster and I started to work harder on my game. After my early years with the UCC I played for ACC. At present, I am part of Kashmir Gymkhana.
KO: Choosing cricket as a profession in this part of the world isnt all that easy?
SOFI: Obiviously, it is very tough as our state lacks infrastructure and quality cricket. We merely have any facilities here. Mostly interested people move out of state to play cricket.
Infrastructure is the key. Lack of quality cricket being played in J&K is the big handicap. We need to improve facilities to develop more cricketers.
KO: Did your parents back your decision to choose cricket as a career.
SOFI: Initially my parents didnt support me but once I started to earn from cricket, they slowly started to support me.Family support is very important for every budding cricketer, it makes things easy.
My studies suffered. Its very hard to carry both, one thing will surely suffer. My parents were not happy with me but I never surrendered. I kept playing and ALMIGHTY helped me.
KO: Cricketers that inspire you?
SOFI: : Arshad Bhat, Abid Nabi, Samiullah Beigh and Parveez Rasool are the ones I have been inspired with. When it comes to international players, Sachin Tendulkar is my favourite batsman, Akram the favourite bowlers and among the all-rounders I like Shaun Pollock.
KO: For any fast bowler, maintaining fitness is ever so important?
SOFI; Fitness is most important part of the game. No one can sustain or survive without fitness. A player needs to be very fit and active to play the game.
KO: Playing at big level does bring pressure with it?
Sofi: Honestly, I never felt any pressure. I always love to enjoy the game. A player needs to enjoy the game to do well.
KO: What are you immediate goals in cricket?
SOFI: I would have loved to play in the IPL or for India, but it is very tough. I want to enjoy cricket as long as I am on the field.
KO: What message would you like to give youngsters?
SOFI: Enjoy the game and play game with more energy and interest. And also work hard as hard work always pays.
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