Afghanistan spin prodigy Mujeeb ur Rahman says cricket is his 'language'

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Mujeeb is the latest Afghan spinner to rise to prominence.

Afghanistan have made a habit of producing quality spinners in their short cricketing history so far with the rise of Rashid Khan being the prime example.

While Rashid continues to make waves in international and franchise cricket, another Afghan teenager in the form of Mujeeb ur Rahman has taken the cricketing world by storm since making his bow.

The 17-year-old prodigy had a highly successful maiden stint in the IPL with Kings XI Punjab this year where he picked up 14 wickets in 11 matches at an economy-rate of only 6.99 before an injury to his bowling hand saw him miss out in the final stages of the competition. Such was Mujeeb’s instant impact that even the likes of Virat Kohli struggled to pick up his subtle variations.

The youngster, however, has recovered just in time for Afghanistan’s maiden Test against India in Bengaluru and has already bowled two highly economical spells in the two T20Is against Bangladesh at Dehradun so far.

Unlike many in the Afghan side, Mujeeb comes from a family with a cricketing background after his uncle Noor Ali Zadran featured in the country’s debut ODI against Scotland in 2009.

“I used to bowl to my uncle from a very young age. And I bowled with a mindset that I was already playing at the international level. Right from the beginning, I got a chance to bowl to international players,” told the Times of India on the sidelines of the ongoing series against Bangladesh.

Mujeeb picked up 14 wickets in the IPL. Image - IPL/Twitter.

Mujeeb picked up 14 wickets in the IPL. Image – IPL/Twitter.

The youngster is already going places in T20 cricket after his maiden IPL stint and will turn up for Hampshire in the T20 Blast. When asked how he communicated with his new international stars, Mujeeb said that cricket was his language of communication.

“Cricket is my language. I bank on my cricketing knowledge. I understand what is being told to me, the language doesn’t matter. I understand cricketing stuff,” he stated.

One of the more unconventional spinners going around in cricket currently, the teenager also revealed the spinners whom he had grown up watching as a young child.

“I watched Ajantha Mendis, Sunil Narine and Ravichandran Ashwin bowling different type of balls. That fascinated me. I kept watching the videos and grew with it,” Mujeeb stated.

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A look at what Rashid Khan, Jos Buttler and other IPL star performers have done after end of their India stint

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The Indian Premier League provided an opportunity for many cricketers, both local and international, to test themselves against the best in the world and under pressure situations.

Obviously, not everyone succeeded. Out of those who did deliver, many are on a break at the moment. However for some, work continues. Here we look at the star performers of IPL 2018 who are playing competitive cricket at the moment.

RASHID KHAN

Vivo IPL 2018 Qualifier 2 - SRH v KKR

The star Afghanistan spinner picked up 21 wickets in IPL 2018 and was the top bowler in the final stretch of the tournament. Rashid took 2-48 for World XI against the West Indies at Lord’s, in a charity match to help rebuild venues devastated by hurricanes in the Caribbean, and followed it up a couple of devastating performances in the first two T20s against Bangladesh in Dehradun.

Rashid picked up 3-13 in the first match in their new ‘home’ ground and followed it up with 4-12 in the second game to seal a series win.

JOS BUTTLER

England v Pakistan: NatWest 1st Test - Day One

The England batsman was struggling in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals. Then the management decided to open the innings with him and Buttler cracked five successive fifties. So impressive was his form that Buttler was picked as a batsman for the Pakistan Test series and put in scores of 14, 67 and 80*.

His innings of 80 clinched the second Test Test at Headingley after the hosts had fallen behind at Lord’s. More importantly, it was a shot in the arm for new selector Ed Smith’s whose decision to go with his gut feel paid off.

JOFRA ARCHER

The Barbadian was brilliant with the ball for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL after recovering from a side strain. He took that form to the One-Day Cup in England as he registered 0-53 and 2-53 in two innings for Sussex. He also scored 33 and 19 in those games.

More importantly, news has emerged of Archer being fast tracked into the England set-up after proposed amendments to England cricket’s residency rules. Archer is at the peak of his game and England would give anything to have him in the team for the 2019 World Cup at home.

SHAKIB AL HASAN

The Bangladesh star was a crucial member of the Sunrisers Hyderabad team with the bat and ball. He picked up 14 wickets and scored 239 runs in IPL 2018 but wasn’t on top of his game against Afghanistan in the T20 series. Shakib took just one wicket from two games and failed to cross 15.

Maybe a demanding IPL with the bat and ball has taken a lot out of the Bangladesh icon.

SANDEEP LAMICHHANE

The Nepalese leg-spinner finally got some gametime in the IPL for Delhi Daredevils and dazzled in three games, picking up five wickets. After the IPL got over, the teenager went to Lord’s to play for the World XI against the West Indies.

In that T20 match, Sandeep was the last bowling option tried by captain Shahid Afridi and he went for 12 runs in one over.

MUJEEB UR RAHMAN

The Afghanistan leg-spinner had been out of action after injuring his bowling hand in the IPL playing for Kings XI Punjab. He missed the crucial final stages of the tournament. However, Mujeeb returned to the team for the T20 series against Bangladesh looking to hit his strides ahead of the inaugural Test against India in Bengaluru on June 14.

Mujeeb picked up just the one wicket against Bangladesh in two the T20s so far but kept the scoring rate down – 0-15 and 1-20 from four overs each.

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Rashid Khan takes four wickets as Afghanistan seal T20 series against Bangladesh

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To the four: Rashid Khan

Rashid Khan took four scalps as Afghanistan beat Bangladesh by six wickets in Dehradun to win their first T20 series over the Tigers.

Tamim Iqbal’s 43 from 48 balls helped Bangladesh to a total of 134 for eight from their 20 overs with Afghanistan bowler Rashid taking four for 12 from his four overs.

Afghanistan, who lead the series 2-0 ahead of Thursday’s final game, chased the total down with seven balls to spare thanks to Samiullah Shenwari’s 49 from 41 balls. Mohammad Nabi was unbeaten on 31.

It appeared the ‘hosts’ would be in trouble after finding themselves 79-3 in the 14th over but Nabi hit three fours and two sixes in his 15-ball blitz.

But it was the 19-year-old Rashid, who stole the show as his triple strike in an over rattled Bangladesh. He was denied a hat-trick after Tamim Iqbal (43) and Mosaddek Hossain was out in consecutive balls.

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