Hyderabad-born Shamsher Basheer Ali hopes to swing the mallet yet again for the Polo World Cup 2022

Against all ‘handicaps’, contemporary player representing the city internationally

author_img Mayank Tiwari Published :  26th February 2022 03:14 PM   |   Published :   |  26th February 2022 03:14 PM
Shamsher Basheer Ali (Photo | Facebook,@PoloShamsheer)

Shamsher Basheer Ali (Photo | Facebook,@PoloShamsheer)

The polo season 2022 is underway in Jaipur and Indian polo giant — Hyderabad-born Shamsher Basheer Ali -- hopes to swing the mallet yet again for the Polo World Cup.

He is perhaps the only contemporary player representing the city internationally. The athlete, who won the maximum number of tournaments in the last two years, speaks to CE about his vocation and the hardships that polo players face due to disappearing polo grounds in Hyderabad.

Shamsher Basheer is currently in Jaipur for the Jaipur Polo Season which has four teams participating in over 10 tournaments (two-16 goal level). The Achievers Team that he represents participated in two tournaments. “I played the finals, but lost to the SUJÁN team which is popular in Northern India during this year’s ongoing session,” he says. His team won 19 tournaments this year and is leading in the country. The Jaipur session ends on February 27.

Shamsher represented the country four times at the world cup. “I’ve won the maximum tournaments this year and last. I was the leading player in the country with a handicap score of six. The Indian Polo Team is likely to announce that I will be playing for the World Cup 2022, the dates for which are to be announced this March,” he adds. A handicap is a proximate rating of polo-playing, ranging on a scale from -2 to 10. A -2 handicap would be given to a beginner player, while a 10 is reserved for the most skilled player.

“I’ve been practising in Jaipur and playing there mostly, primarily because there are no good polo grounds in Hyderabad anymore. Encouraged by my father, I started practising at a ground in Vikarabad — which is now shut because the land belonged to the government. I had no option but to go to Jaipur,” says Shamsher Basheer, who is popularly known as Chamma among polo players and fans.

Post monarchic reigns, the sport was put on the back burner, and polo grounds made way for new buildings except for the Bison Polo Ground which remains closed. Shamsher Basheer says that young players like his brothers Basheer and Amjha — Rajeev Reddy and Kaushik from Hyderabad need a lot of encouragement.

“We have appealed to the government to give back the land in Vikarabad so that we can encourage new talent. We are the only city from the entire South of India that has a rich history of polo and is gifted with good players who need nourishment. Legendary player Shah Mirza Baig, too, was from Hyderabad. He maintained a handicap score of nine, which is only attained by exceptional players,” he says.

Current state of polo grounds in Hyd

Pre-independence: 17 active polo grounds

Today: Bison Polo Ground (remains closed)

Hyderabad’s Shamsher Basheer Ali, who is likely to represent India at the World Polo Championship, speaks to CE about the recent match at the ongoing Jaipur Polo Season 2022 and the need to revive the sport in the city