indian cricket

‘He told me spots where to bowl’: Mujeeb set to use Ashwin’s inputs against India

The 17-year-old spinner has risen rapidly to become a key member of the Afghanistan team alongside lead spinner Rashid Khan.

Afghanistan mystery spinner Mujeeb Zadran says tricks of the trade learnt from Ravichandran Ashwin during the Indian Premier League (IPL) will come in handy during his team’s inaugural Test against India, beginning in Bengaluru from Thursday.

Having made his domestic debut only in August last year, the 17-year-old spin sensation has risen rapidly to become a key member of the national team alongside lead spinner Rashid Khan. Ashwin taught him a mystery ball in the Kings XI Punjab nets during the IPL and Mujeeb said he is going use that against India.

“I spent a lot of time with Ashwin at the nets and it was really helpful. He told me spots where to bowl. He has also taught me a new ball and I am trying to learn it. It is a carrom ball with an off-spin action,” said Mujeeb.

Fearless approach 

He has not played a First-Class game yet but Mujeeb’s successful stints in the IPL, under-19 World Cup and with the national team in shorter formats have made him “fearless”.

“I have played high-level cricket already so there is no fear going into the Test. Thanks to the IPL, I know how to handle pressure. I don’t fear playing against any opposition. It used to play on my mind but not anymore,” he said.

Mujeeb spins the ball both ways and has a very effective googly, which even foxed Virat Kohli in the IPL. Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai has gone on to say that his spin department, comprising Rashid, Mujeeb, Mohammad Nabi and Rahmat Shah, is even better than India.

Three out of the four spinners played in the recently-concluded IPL and will have a fair idea of what to expect from the Bengaluru pitch.

IPL stint

Mujeeb is one of them and having spent more than a month with Ashwin, he is ready to use the gained wisdom against the KXIP captain.

“I have already figured out how to go about my business. Virat Kohli is not playing but there are other batsmen like Ajinkya Rahane and Lokesh Rahul who are also very good. We won’t be taking anyone lightly. The good thing is that I have already played against and alongside the big players in the IPL. I will utilise all of that in the Test.”

Asked if the occasion could get the better of him, he said, “You always play with a motive and it is a matter of great pride for me that Afghanistan are playing their first Test and I am also part of the squad.”

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