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The Parsis are about to make a comeback on the cricket field. Parsis, India’s Zoroastrian community, dominated the game in Mumbai for over a hundred years. But the sport has waned in the community over the last half-century. Farokh Engineer, a genuine star behind the stumps in the 1970s, was the last Parsi to play for India, and there has not been a Parsi in the Mumbai Ranji Trophy side since Zubin Bharucha in the 1990s.
Dinshaw Mehta, head of the Bombay Parsi Panchayet (BPP), the community’s legal body, blamed the malaise on the internet, saying today’s youngsters spend more time on Facebook than they do on sports grounds.“Once upon a time, we had cricketers like [Nari] Contractor and [Rusi] Surti. Now, there is not a single Parsi cricketer on the horizon,”
That could change in the near future. The Parsee Gymkhana, the Parsee Cyclist Club and former India captain Contractor have come together to revive the sport in the community, according to the DNA. The BPP will provide grounds at its housing colonies and Bharucha will coach the trainees, the first batch of whom will be chosen at a selection camp on Saturday morning. The Rustomjee Group, the sponsors, have created pitches and training enclosures and also provided kits and nets.At the project’s inauguration on Sunday, Contractor said, “The long-cherished dream of providing some facility to the young generation has come true, which we were planning for past seven years.”