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Afghanistan wunderkind Mujeeb Zadran keen to follow in Rashid Khan’s footsteps

At the age of just 16 years and 325 days, Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Zadran became the youngest player to take a five-for in ODIs, beating Waqar Younis -- who achieved the same at 18 years and 164 days.

cricket Updated: Feb 18, 2018 11:35 IST
Devarchit Varma
Devarchit Varma
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Mujeeb Zadran,Rashid Khan,Afghanistan Cricket Team
Mujeeb Zadran made history as the 16-year-old Afghanistan spinner became the youngest player to take a ODI five-for in Friday’s resounding, series-clinching 10-wicket win over Zimbabwe in Sharjah.(Twitter )

From their first victory at the ICC World Cup 2015 to entering the Test arena in mid-2018, Afghanistan cricket has made rapid strides, and a lot should be credited to the players.

Afghan cricket is no more restricted to the charisma of Mohammad Shahzad or Rashid Khan. The country may not have the infrastructure compared to other nations, but has enough quality in its ranks to go a long way.

(Read | Mujeeb Zadran makes history as Afghanistan seal Zimbabwe series)

Afghanistan U-19’s qualification to the semifinal of the recently-concluded World Cup was another example. If that was not enough, 16-year-old Mujeeb Zadran broke Pakistan great Waqar Younis’ record of being the youngest to take a five-wicket haul.

Mujeeb, who claimed six wickets in the World Cup, carried on the momentum in the ongoing ODI series against Zimbabwe. His 5/50 in the fourth ODI powered Afghanistan to a 10-wicket victory, sealing the series 3-1.

(Read | Virat Kohli fires at media again, says ‘can’t live in dreamland, praise doesn’t matter to me’)

It was his four-wicket haul against hosts New Zealand that propelled Afghanistan into the semifinal of the U-19 World Cup.

In between, he was picked for IPL 2018 by Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) for R4 crore.

Zadran, who hails from the eastern province of Khost, can bowl off-break, leg-break, carrom ball and even the googly. But the highlight of his short career has been that he can bowl with the new ball in a batsmen-dominated game.

(Read | Ravi Shastri tells media to ‘buy a dictionary’ to describe Virat Kohli’s cricket)

Mujeeb took 4/24 on debut against Ireland in December 2017, but his five-wicket haul in the final of U-19 Asia Cup 2017 against Pakistan was most noticeable as he powered Afghanistan to a massive 185-run win with his spell of 7.1-2-13-5.

In the semifinal earlier, he had demolished Nepal with a six-for.

(Read | Jhulan Goswami ruled out of India vs South Africa women’s T20 series due to injury)

Zadran was inspired to take up cricket after watching Afghanistan compete at the 2012 ICC World T20, according to Cricbuzz, a decision that has paid rich dividends.

The IPL will not only have the likes of Rashid Khan and Zadran, but will also see another young Afghan bowler, Zahir Khan Pakteen, competing for a spot in the Rajasthan Royals.

A Chinaman bowler, Zahir is eager to learn from the legendary Shane Warne during his IPL stint, and help his brothers who brought him up.

Like Zadran, Zahir lost his father at a young age. But overcoming obstacles, these two young players are set to follow the inspirational Rashid on the international stage.

First Published: Feb 17, 2018 16:34 IST