Rajasthan Royals will reach IPL 2018 final, says injured Afghan spinner Zahir Khan
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Rajasthan Royals will reach IPL 2018 final, says injured Afghan spinner Zahir Khan

Zahir Khan, whose performance in the Under-19 World Cup for Afghanistan prompted Rajasthan Royals to sign him for Rs 60 lakh in the Indian Premier League auction,rues missing the opportunity of playing in IPL 2018.

cricket Updated: May 22, 2018 11:33 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
IPL 2018,Indian Premier League,Rajasthan Royals
Zahir Khan, who missed the entire Indian Premier League (IPL 2018) because of an injury he picked up during a practice game, is hopeful to be back in action before Afghanistan cricket team’s historic first Test against Indian cricket team.(Getty Images)

Right after breaking his Ramzan fast, Afghanistan Chinaman bowler Zahir Khan gets glued to the TV, following the IPL 2018 action from the rehabilitation centre of the CSS-Whatmore Centre for Cricket at Sri Ramachandra Medical College (SRMC) in Chennai. The 19-year-old spinner would have been playing this season’s Indian Premier League play-offs for Rajasthan Royals but a freak shoulder injury has forced him to sit out of the whole tournament.

Zahir, whose performance in the Under-19 World Cup prompted Rajasthan Royals to sign him for Rs 60 lakh in the auction,rues missing the opportunity.

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“I injured my shoulder diving during fielding in a practice game. I was so excited to be part of the Rajasthan Royals team for my maiden IPL. But god had different plans,” said the spinner from Kabul.

“I’m so thrilled to see Rajasthan enter the play-offs,” added Zahir, who has been recuperating in Chennai for a month.

Zahir Khan
  • Age: 19
  • Country: Afghanistan
  • Bowling style: Slow left-arm chinaman
  • Big-deal: He was bought by Rajasthan Royals for Rs 60 lakh in auction for IPL-11
  • Injury-borne: He had to miss entire IPL-11 due to shoulder injury
  • First-class debut: Afghanistan v Papua New Guinea at Sharjah in 2015
  • T20 Leagues: Bangladesh Premiere League, Shpageeza Cricket League
  • U-19 World Cup: He was part of the Afghanistan team that reached the semis of the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand

“The AjinkyaRahane-Shane Warne combination can do wonders. I think Rajasthan Royals will be in the final. I congratulated the teammates for making it to the play-offs. As far as I’m concerned, I can try my luck next season,” said. Zahir, who could be forced to skip three T20s against Bangladesh in Dehradun starting on June 2 due to the injury.

However, he should be ready for action before Afghanistan’s historic first Test match against India in Bengaluru. Describing the Test against India as a big leap for war-torn Afghanistan, Zahir said cricket has given the country reasons to celebrate.

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“It would be a big historic moment for our country.And taking on a heavyweight team like India would make it more special. Spinners like Rashid Khan, Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and all-rounder Mohammed Nabi have shown their mettle in the IPL. Our batsmen would be better at taking on spinners in Bengaluru. I hope I regain fitness by then and I’m eligible for selection. Otherwise, we are slated to play plenty of Tests in next four years,” said Zahir, who made his ODI debut for Afghanistan against Papua New Guinea in the 2015–17 ICC Inter-continental Cup in November 2015.

When asked about how Afghanistan produce top-class spinners on a regular basis, Zahir replied: “Like India, we have spin-friendly wickets back home. So,youngsters tend to bowl on such wickets and end up being spinners.Moreover, Afghanis are naturally gifted when it comes to spin bowling.Our spinners will hold the key in T20s against Bangladesh and farewell against India.”

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Zahir is also anticipating a call-up from one of the teams playing in Canada’s T20 global league next month.

“I am in touch with people in Canada organising the T20 league. Hoping to be a part of it,” Zahir, who has also played in the Bangladesh Preimer League and Shpageeza Cricket League, said.

Known to be a sharp spinner, Zahir lauded Sunrisers Hyderabad spinner Rashid Khan and Kings XI Punjab’s 18-year-old offie Mujeeb for their good performances in IPL 2018.

“When they do well in a big league likethe IPL a strong message goes out to the world that Afghanistan cricketers are no less than any of the big stage cricketers. It would have been great if I also played and made a mark. I missed a chance of playing under coach Shane Warne,” said Zahir.

First Published: May 22, 2018 10:52 IST