Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan, the first Afghan cricketers to play in the Indian Premier League, are looking forward to putting their best foot forward in the marquee tournament, beginning on April 5. Both the players were bought by reigning champions Sunrisers Hyderabad during this year’s auction.
All-rounder Nabi and leg-spinner Rashid were excited to be part of the league and spoke about the impact it would have on Afghan cricket. “Afghanistan cricket is going to be seen in a different light when we walk out in the IPL,” Rashid told iplt20.com.
Nabi added that the Indian league will be watched by cricket fans all over Afghanistan, who are sure to support Sunrisers. “When the IPL starts, every Afghan cricket fan is going to be glued to the TV sets. They have a lot of expectations from us and we won’t disappoint. I am sure they will support the Sunrisers Hyderabad. I am excited to play with the big names in our team and I can’t wait for the IPL to begin,” he said.
Both Nabi and Rashid were delighted to be part of the IPL and spoke about how they felt when they watched Sunrisers pick them at the auction in February.
“It is an honour for both of us to have been selected in the IPL,” Nabi said. “Everyone was waiting for the auction when we were named in the IPL Auction pool. We were in Zimbabwe at that time and it was early in the morning when we switched on our TV sets to catch a glimpse of the auction and see if we would be selected. When I was picked up by the Sunrisers, my joy knew no bounds. It is a very big achievement for me and my teammate here. It is a huge moment for Afghanistan cricket. The reception back home was brilliant. It is a dream come true for me to be a part of this league.”
Rashid said that playing in the IPL was a dream come true. “I have always wanted to play this tournament and I would often wonder how it would feel to be a part of the IPL. That dream is now a reality and here I am in Hyderabad ready to fulfil my dream. We as a nation and individual have worked hard to get here and it is time for us to make this IPL an enriching experience.”
Both Nabi and Rashid are looking forward to the experience of playing crunch games with big names in the IPL, and to carry forward that learning to Afghan cricket.
“It is an opportunity for both of us to observe the big players from close quarters and see how they handle pressure situations. This is going to be a huge learning curve,” Nabi said. “Just being with names like Yuvraj Singh, David Warner and Kane Williamson gives me a different thrill,” Rashid added. “I can learn a lot by sharing the dressing room with such legends of the game. Hopefully we can take a lot of positives from this tournament and take it back home in Afghanistan and become better cricketers.”
Talking about his own bowling, Rashid, who is looking forward to working closely with spinning great Muttiah Muralitharan, said, “I have the leg-spinner, the top spinner and then the googly. These are the main weapons I am using at the nets and match. I will try and improve it more for better effectiveness. I want to try my variations against some big players and see how they read my variations.”