Page last updated at 23:38 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 00:38 UK

Pakistani eunuchs in cricket win

By Nisar Khokar

Eunuch cricket players
The eunuchs said they felt greatly appreciated by the crowd

Eunuchs in Pakistan have won what is believed to be the first cricket match their team has ever played in the country.

Their opponents were "normal" young men from a local cricket club in the southern city of Sukkur.

Eunuchs - or castrated men - are seen as social outcasts by Pakistan's largely conservative Islamic society, which has ignored them over the years.

They mostly earn their living as dancers, sex workers and by begging.

Special facilities

"I want to dedicate our victory to Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry," Sanam Khan, captain of the eunuchs' team, told the BBC.

Eunuch player with the tropjy for the winning team
There was much joy at the team's triumphant win

"It is only due to him that things are changing for eunuchs in Pakistan."

Mr Chaudhry is Pakistan's chief justice.

He has recently ordered Pakistan's government to stop discrimination against eunuchs and granted them special medical and public facilities.

The match was organised by a local sports association in Sukkur, a city in the southern province of Sindh.

The eunuch's opponents were from a local cricket club called the Olympians, while the eunuchs' team was called Sanam (Beloved) XI.

The match was held at the largest stadium in the city and a sizeable crowd turned out to cheer both teams.

The Olympians won the toss and elected to bat first.

They managed to score 65 runs in their allotted eight overs.

Sanam XI comfortably overhauled the target, with their star batsman, Allah Rakhi, scoring 20 runs.

She was later declared "man of the match".

The eunuchs did an impromptu dance on the pitch after they won the match, and said that they felt "very greatly appreciated" by the crowd.

"We are delighted by the response," Sanam Khan told the BBC.

"Hopefully we can continue in the same vein in the future."

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