When Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan were picked by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year, there was a sense of disbelief in the Afghanistan camp, be it the players or the officials from the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB).
It’s been a year since and life has changed for the Afghan players. From being rookie players of an associate nation, the players have been able to make a name for themselves and that has happened largely due to Afghanistan attaining the Test status.
The side has performed reasonably well in all the categories and the players have evolved.
Nabi and Rashid, in fact, have featured in all the leagues of the world. What started as a one-off stint with the IPL has now paved way for stints in the Caribbean Premier League, Bangladesh Premier League, Pakistan Super League and of course the ongoing Big Bash League — where Rashid and Nabi are representing the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades respectively. In all these tournaments, Rashid has made heads turn with his mystery delivery.
When the IPL auction gets underway in Bengaluru on Saturday, a total of 10 players from Afghanistan will be hoping to get picked by an IPL side. But then, the focus will largely be on Rashid — he scalped 17 wickets from 14 games last season.
Rashid, who was named the ICC Associate Cricketer of the Year, would be hoping to fetch big money in the auction this time around.
In an interview with Sportstar last year, Rashid had admitted that it is the IPL that has changed his career. And in an auction which will see the return of Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, Rashid would certainly want more bidders.
While that looks highly likely, Nabi — who could play just three games last season, scalping two wickets — will also be looking forward to getting picked by an IPL franchise.
However, there is a strong belief that 16-year-old Mujeeb Zadran — who is presently representing the country in the U-19 World Cup — could be the surprise element in the auction.
Considered a mystery spinner, the young gun had made all heads turn with his performance in the Bangladesh Premier League, where he donned the colours of Comilla Victorians. Replacing Rashid halfway through the tournament, Zadran became one of the most talked about cricketers in the tournament. And a lucrative IPL deal looks quite possible for the youngster.
Though the list also includes players like Shafiqullah Shafaq and Mohammad Shehzad — who is returning from dope ban — there may not be enough takers for them. But with base prices hovering between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 50 lakh, a couple of them could just get lucky.
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