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A second year Commerce student at Symbiosis College in Pune, the 21-year-old Mustafa will represent Pune in the 'Gatorade Pacer – 2009' – a talent hunt initiative launched by Gatorade, the sports drink brand from PepsiCo – along with Tanmay Dev in the under-22 category.
"I was disappointed as there was no scope for cricket in valley," says Mustafa. "I left valley to pursue my academics at Pune. Here the people appreciated by talent and I returned to the cricket field".
The six-foot tall Mustafa played cricket from an early age in his remote Brental village of Tral in south Kashmir. He had in fact, inherited the game. "My father and brother too were fast bowlers. My brother also represented the state," he says. "I was interested in fast bowling from an early age. I was selected for Ranji trials but failed to qualify".
Mustafa then left the valley in disappointment, deciding to make a mark in academics. In Pune, he joined the Symbiosis College for a graduate degree in commerce. It was there that his talent was appreciated by the spectators and fellow players and he decided to take the game seriously.
Mustafa will now move to New Delhi for the Gatorade Pacers event and will compete with 27 more bowlers handpicked from different parts of the country. In Delhi, the bowlers will go through a structural training-cum-selection session that will be conducted by former Indian players, T A Sears and Javagal Srinath.
The pacer from Kashmir has now set his eyes on the Indian Premier League (IPL). "I am hopeful to play in the IPL now," he says. "But my goal is to be part of team India. I want to be the first player from Kashmir to represent India".
Mustafa is the third fast bowler from Kashmir, who has made it to the news headlines in recent past. Three years ago, Abid Nabi made a mark when he was selected for Indian under-19 team. However, as Nabi couldn't make it to the Indian team, he joined the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) for Delhi Jets. Last year, Mudasir Ahmad, a fast bowler from Srinagar was selected for the Punjab Kings in IPL but couldn't make it to the final eleven.