Naushad Shaikh, who led Maharashtra briefly in the last Ranji season, is spearheading a campaign to help the needy, including groundsmen, to see them through the three-week lockdown, enforced to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shaikh was joined by a group of like-minded players like pacer Nikit Dhumal, Suraj Shinde (Maharashtra U-23), Yash Kshirsagar (U-23 captain and Ranji player) and Shubham Chavan, the state Ranji team’s massuer). Naushad is also assisted by a few Club of Maharashtra players, the club Naushad represents, to create ‘The Gamechangers Relief Fund’.
Shaikh told PTI on Sunday that they were inspired by the initiative taken by the local scorers. “We have been able to raise Rs 1.50 lakh till now and now will start distribution of ration packets to the groundsmen and also the daily wage workers, who reside in the slums,” added Shaikh, a batsman, who made his Ranji Trophy debut in the 2016-17 season.
Cricketing activity in the country has come to a grinding halt due to the pandemic, which has claimed over 70 lives. “Not only players from Maharashtra, but even players from other states/associations came forward and helped,” Shaikh said, adding there is no involvement of any social worker or NGO in this campaign.
He said that the most notable contribution came from industrialist Punit Balan, who chipped in Rs 50,000. Balan himself was a former cricketer. Shaikh said, “Ranji players from other teams like Aditya Sarvate (Vidarbha), Prashant Parmeshwaran (Kerala), Manan Vohra (Punjab) and his Maharashtra teammates Ruturaj Gaikwad, Satyajit Bacchav have also contributed. Several other local players have also come forward to help.”
Shaikh also said that their target is to help 100 families in the beginning and they chose to distribute ration (rice, wheat and sugar) as it is essential for survival.