Three years after he was detained by the police on suspicion of carrying explosives, Parvez Rasool, Jammu and Kashmir's dashing batsman and off-spinner, is getting closer to realising his ultimate dream of playing for India.
Rasool, 23, was chosen to play for India 'A' against England, in a warm-up match in New Delhi on January 6, becoming the first player from the state to make it to the national side.
"Like any other cricketer, I want to play for the country," said an excited Rasool, after being selected.
"Bad dream", is how he describes the incident, in October 2009, when the Bangalore police detained him for several hours after his kit-bag allegedly showed traces of explosives. He was let off without any charge.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said Rasool was made a scapegoat and mistakenly detained.
'There was some defect in the (bag-scanning) machine (at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore) and Parvez was made a scapegoat and detained mistakenly,' Abdullah had said.
Rasool was rewarded for his performance in the domestic circuit this season, having amassed 594 runs and picking 33 wickets from seven matches.
Jammu and Kashmir gave a better account of themselves in the current Ranji season, aggregating 15 points from eight games, but it was not enough to ensure them a place in the knock-outs. The team won two matches, drew three and lost three to finish seventh in Group C.
Rasool believes his selection in the India 'A' team will open up avenues for other players in the state.
"It is a huge boost, not only for me, but the entire team. It adds to the value of Jammu and Kashmir cricketers. They will be looked in for the IPL," he said.
The south Kashmir-based cricketer, though, insisted that it will always be India first and IPL later for him.
"Like any other cricketer, I also want to play for the country. Selection in India 'A' means lot more than playing in the IPL. But, yes, given an opportunity I will definitely look to be a part of the tournament," he said.
Asked what it means to be playing along side Sreesanth and Murali Vijay, who have represented India in the past, Rasool said "it is going to be a great experience".
"This is the time when you get an opportunity to see how big players prepare, how they follow the game. It will obviously help me a lot going forward," he said.
Asked which all-rounder he idolises, Rasool did not have a clear choice, but mentioned that when it comes to batting, only one name strikes him and that is Sachin Tendulkar, while it is England's Graeme Swann when it comes to spinning the ball.
Rasool credited former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi for helping him shape his dream.
"Bedi Sir has a huge role in my success. Initially, I was a batsman who could bowl part-time off-breaks, but it was at his (Bedi) insistence that I began to concentrate more on developing my bowling skills," Rasool said.
According to Rasool, it was the legendary left-arm spinner's tips on subtle variations that helped him improve as an off-spinner.
"When someone of Bishan Bedi's stature tells you that you are the best off-spinner in the state you feel that you are special. Then you start working extra hard to repay the faith he has shown. He gave me tips about how to use variations in the flight. How to use the loop effectively and decide on field placings according to batsman's strength."
Bedi, who has been coaching the Jammu and Kashmir team since last season, is not only credited with the skills development of the side but is also hailed for changing the mindset of the players.
"Bedi made us realise that we are here to compete and not just to participate. Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir players used to play for the heck of it but now we believe in ourselves. We believe that we have the talent to be among the best," Rasool said, when asked about Bedi's influence on the psyche of the team.