IPL: Nabi, Rashid set for a new beginning

When the Afghanistan players returned to the team hotel in Harare on Sunday evening, beating Zimbabwe by 54 runs, there was a sense of disbelief in the camp.

The vastly experienced Nabi was bought for Rs. 30 lakh.   -  ap

When the Afghanistan players returned to the team hotel in Harare on Sunday evening, beating Zimbabwe by 54 runs, there was a sense of disbelief in the camp. The fact that they had literally toyed with the host, was yet to sink in. But on Monday, the Afghan players were in for a bigger surprise when two of their teammates Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan were picked up by the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad for the forthcoming season.

While the vastly experienced Nabi was bought for Rs. 30 lakh, the 18-year-old Rashid was picked up for a whopping Rs. 4 crore. And, a few minutes later, when Sportstar spoke to the players in Harare, they were yet to come to terms with the fact that in a couple of months, they would actually be a part of the IPL.

> Mohammad Nabi becomes first Afghan player in the IPL

“Being a part of the IPL is a big thing for any cricketer, and if you are an Afghan, the excitement just doubles up. Throughout the year, we don’t get to play with the big names. At least, this way, we too can make our presence felt,” the 30-year-old Nabi said.

When he made his international debut eight years back, Nabi could only dream of making it to the big league someday. “But then, it took eight long years to be here. It is definitely a big moment for all of us,” a rather emotional Nabi said. The former Afghanistan captain, however, believes that the experience of playing in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and the Pakistan Super League (PSL) will come in handy for both him and Rashid. “IPL is a big-ticket league and you have to be at your best. So, the experience of the PSL and BPL will certainly help us,” he said.

Becoming the first Afghan player to make it to the IPL, Nabi also feels that this would encourage the youngsters to take up cricket. “Back home in Afghanistan, the game is still not very popular. But things have started changing after the World T20 last year. This, definitely, will add to the gloss,” the senior all-rounder said.

‘It’s too good to be true’

At 18, Rashid was only learning the basic nitty-gritty of international cricket from his seniors. But now, even the young leg-spinner knows that his world will change soon. “To be a part of the IPL is a big honour. It’s too good to be true,” Rashid joked. Hailing from the Nangarhar Province, cricket didn’t come easy. With the other members at home involved in family business, not many wanted him to pursue his passion.

But then, the young gun ensured that he played cricket. So, when he was selected for the Zimbabwe series last year, even the family members thought it was a rumour. “But they have always been supportive. Once they realised that cricket is where I belong, the family has always been by my side,” he said.

Even as his inclusion in the Sunrisers squad has taken the cricketing world by storm, Rashid wants to stay grounded and study further. “After completing graduation, I took a break from studies to focus on cricket. But now, I want to enrol myself in the university,” the youngster said.

But then, that’s for next year. At the moment, the youngster is looking forward to a new beginning. After all, it’s not every day that you get picked up for the IPL!