Prior to this, the farthest J&K had progressed in the tournament was the pre-quarter-finals against Odisha in 2000-01. The team will meet Punjab at Moti Baug, Vadodara, Gujarat. J&K skipper Parvez Rasool said the feeling of making the quarter-finals was a "special one" and would motivate the players more.
"This performance promotes us to B group next year in which we will be locking horns with the teams which were in 'Elite' group earlier. This means that we will need to work even harder as a team. From here, the challenge to elevate ourselves to the next level starts," he added. Rasool played a stellar role in Jammu and Kashmir's qualification as he first scored 83 to get the first innings lead and then ran through the Tripura line-up to take seven wickets which ensured that they enjoyed a better run quotient.
"As a captain, it is my duty to perform in a crunch situation. I am happy that I could peak at the right time," said 24-year-old Rasool, who has taken 21 wickets and scored 550 runs in the current season.
Asked about the run quotient, Rasool laughed. "You can't believe that I was sitting with a pen and paper and doing all sorts of calculations about how we could qualify for the knock-outs. I was doing all sorts of permutations about what score we could get Tripura out for. I am happy our plans worked well today.”
For Rasool, his team has some quality players, who need more exposure at the top level as they have the ingredients to get better.
"This is a team which thrived on enjoying each other's performance. I have got a taste of top-level cricket by playing for India A and IPL and sharing the Indian dressing room. We have players like Adil (Rishi), Hardeep (Singh) and Bandeep (Singh), who have all done well. The pacers Samiuallah Beigh and Mohammed Mudhasir have bowled their hearts out," he said.
"Considering other state associations, we don't even get 15% of those facilities. This speaks of the determination that these boys have showed in reaching this level. The quality of cricket at the first-class level has gone up and to measure up you need the best infrastructure.” For Rasool, his team has done it because of passion and not monetary gains. In fact, J&K players' match fees are blocked because of an ongoing inquiry into financial bungling in the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has blocked the money pending inquiry. "You know, we haven't got any match fees for the last two years. But none of the players has ever complained although cricket is our livelihood. I believe this is the dedication, determination and discipline that has made us believe that we can beat any team," Rasool said. (Agencies)