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How IPL 2018 helped Afghanistan’s Mujeeb ur Rahman raise his game

Afghanistan’s 17-year-old off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman credits his IPL 2018 experience with Kings XI Punjab for teaching him how to handle pressure well.

cricket Updated: Jun 06, 2018 08:49 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Mujeeb ur Rahman,IPl 2018,Afghanistan cricket team
Afghanistan’s 17-year-old off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman credits his IPL 2018 experience with Kings XI Punjab for equipping him to deal with high-pressure situations. (HT Photo)

After creating a flutter in the IPL 2018 with his variations, it was business as usual for Afghanistan’s 17-year-old off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman against Bangladesh in the first T20 in Dehradun.

Coming out of the shadows of senior spinners like Mohd Nabi and Rashid Khan, mystery spinner Mujeeb bowled a stunning delivery to send Tamim Iqbal back off the very first ball of the innings.

Seeing the talent of the teen bowler from Khost in Afghanistan, Kings XI Punjab bought Mujeeb for ~4 crores in the IPL auction while he was taking part in the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand.

Getting 14 wickets in 11 games, Mujeeb, who has played 15 ODIs and three T20s for Afghanistan, did show glimpses of brilliance.

READ | Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by six wickets, clinch series

In Dehradun for a three-match T20 series against Bangladesh, Mujeeb spoke about playing under role model R Ashwin in the IPL and getting a compliment from Virat Kohli.

Excerpts:

How was it playing under R Ashwin in your maiden IPL?

I had been following Ashwin and Sunil Narine for a long time. I modelled my bowling on their style. Getting picked for a team led by Ashwin was like a dream come true.

He was encouraging and very patient with me. I was a bit shy before but Virender Sehwag helped me open up. Ashwin would sometimes tell me that I bowl better than him, so that would make my day.

READ | Blasts keep happening, we need to focus on cricket: Afghanistan pacer Shapoor Zadran

I have learnt to handle pressure because of the IPL. I have been playing other T20 leagues too but IPL was a great chance to test myself against the best.

You surprised a lot of batsmen with your googlies in the IPL including Virat Kohli. How was it getting his wicket?

No one had seen me bowl much before IPL. So I used this to my advantage. Taking wickets is important but bowling economically in T20 is crucial. I thrive on my variations.

Getting Virat’s wicket was a big moment. He said that it was a brilliant delivery. Moments like these motivate you.

Your Afghanistan teammates Rashid Khan and Mohd Nabi have gained experience over a period of time. There is much talk about you ahead of the maiden Test against India...

I am very young and have recently graduated from U-19 level. They are far more experienced. They have been very helpful in grooming me.

READ | IPL 2018 stint key to my success for England vs Pakistan: Jos Buttler

It is nice that our spinners have done well in the past and people are talking about our strength. It would be historic for our nation.

We need to carry on with the same form and give our best. A good show in the Test would be reassuring.

What is your mindset ahead of the Test? What will be your strategy?

After the injury I was in Noida and then in Dehradun training with the team. We are focused and taking the T20s against Bangladesh seriously.

A series win can lift our confidence ahead of the Test. India has a good batting line-up with the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul and others.

I don’t bowl keeping any batsman in mind. My strategy would be the same for all Indian batsmen. I am positive and bracing for the challenge. Knowing the conditions in Bangalore will help.

First Published: Jun 06, 2018 08:44 IST