In November last year, former India cricketer and Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor V.V.S. Laxman had called up Jammu and Kashmir coach Milap Mewada, enquiring about young players who the franchise could select ahead of the Indian Premier League auction.
During the conversation, Laxman clearly told Mewada that they were looking for someone who will play the role of a finisher.
And Mewada, an old friend and under-19 teammate of Laxman, recommended the name of Abdul Samad. Even Laxman’s Team India mate, Irfan Pathan - who was the mentor of Jammu and Kashmir - suggested that Sunrisers should try out Samad - a fearless hitter and a good finisher.
The franchise was impressed with the way the young gun performed and was picked in the auction. And on Tuesday, as he made his debut for Sunrisers, Samad became the third player from Jammu and Kashmir - after Parvez Rasool and Rasikh Salam - to feature in an IPL fixture. Earlier, Manzoor Dar, too, was picked for the IPL, but had to warm the bench.
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The youngster from Rajouri had an incredible outing in the domestic tournament last season, scoring three centuries and amassing 592 runs. He hit 36 sixes - the most by anyone in the season – which eventually helped Jammu and Kashmir to storm into the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy.
Samad, who turns 19 next month, was in Vadodara for a short training session with his mentor Irfan Pathan before the country went into a lockdown. However, the trip had to be cut short and Samad went back to his home in Jammu and Kashmir. “I would do some stretching and a bit of drills at home. There were times when I went on the terrace and did some basic knocking,” Samad had told Sportstar before leaving for the UAE.
With no one to guide him, Samad would send video clips to Pathan. “Irfan bhai would watch the videos and rectify my mistakes. That actually helped me,” he said.
Once the lockdown was eased, Samad started training at the Science College ground in Jammu. “In the IPL, all-rounders play a key role and keeping that in mind, I am working on a few things. Hopefully that will help,” the youngster, hoping to make things count, had said then.
And finally, the moment arrived for him when Sunrisers assistant coach Brad Haddin handed him the cap - he had aimed for a long time.
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