Brad Hodge: ‘Ashwin’s leadership is helping Mujeeb evolve’

All of 17, Mujeeb has played in KXIP’s all seven games with seven wickets at an economy rate of 6.51.

R. Ashwin (right) wanted Mujeeb Ur Rahman to defend 17 runs against DD at Kotla and he responded to his captain’s call by restricting the opposition to 12 runs.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Leadership plays an important role in a player’s development and young Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman’s improved performance has a lot to do with playing under the wings of Ravichandran Ashwin, Kings XI Punjab chief coach Brad Hodge insisted on Tuesday.

All of 17, Mujeeb has played in KXIP’s all seven games with seven wickets at an economy rate of 6.51. Ashwin, in fact, wanted the teenager to defend 17 runs against Delhi Daredevils at Kotla and he responded to his captain’s call by restricting the opposition to 12 runs.

“Mujeeb has shown a great level of composure. At such young age, he has confidence in his abilities. I would also give credit to Ashwin’s leadership skills. He has been very encouraging. Good leaders help talented players get to the next level,” Hodge said during an interaction.

READ: IPL transfer window: What to expect?

For Hodge, it is important that Mujeeb is nurtured in a proper fashion, as he is immensely talented. “Mujeeb is a very simple human being. Therefore, it is important that one makes him aware of the various processes, without making it complicated. Communication is one issue, but we have very capable assistant coaches, who would pass any specific message that needs to be conveyed to him,” Hodge said.

Hodge, who was an acclaimed T20 freelancer during his playing days (he represented 16 various domestic T20 teams), is enjoying his partnership with KXIP’s Director of Cricket Virender Sehwag.

So, how have they segregated their roles, Hodge replied: “It is a partnership of cricketing minds and that’s the part of the process. Together, we discuss the strategies. It is a perfect mixture of taking collective decisions that would benefit the team.”

ALSO READ: RR falls one short of IPL record!

“I think the secret of KXIP’s success this season has been at the auction table itself. We went into the auction with a plan, which was successfully executed,” Hodge added.

The veteran of 277 T20 games also feels that a champion performer like Chris Gayle must have felt “hurt” after not being picked during KXIP’s first two games. Gayle has since then played four matches, scoring 252 runs with a hundred and two half-centuries to his credit.

“Sometimes, you need to challenge the greatest in the world. Gayle had to sit out in a couple of games and that must have hurt a champion like him. Even before the start of the tournament, Gayle had shown a great attitude and no one can ever question his class and ability. He is an absolute legend of the game,” the former Australian middle-order batsman said.

ALSO READ: Du Plessis: ‘Difficult to plan and bowl to Dhoni’

While Gayle’s graph in the IPL is witnessing upswing, it has been a downward spiral for another veteran Yuvraj Singh, who managed only 50 runs in six games, before being dropped from the playing XI.

Hodge, however, had words of encouragement for the left-hander. “I certainly don’t believe that Yuvraj is out of form. In the two practice games, he had scores of 120 and 80. As a coach, the sound of the ball hitting the sweet spot is the most important thing. So, what I have seen of Yuvraj, he has been hitting the ball really well. He has the burning ambition to do well, and the day it happens, he will be devastating,” he said.