Nabi: 'Wish to see more Afghani cricketers in the IPL'

Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan are the only Afghan cricketers in the IPL. Their participation in the league, says the former, is helping cricket's popularity grow in Afghanistan.

"It is a dream to play in IPL," said Mohammad Nabi.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi believes that cricket, given its status as the No. 1 sport back home, can bring about peace and tranquility in the war-torn nation.

“Lot of youngsters are taking up the game in a big way. There is plenty of talent and this is a good augury for the sport and for the country too,” the 32-year-old all-rounder remarked after his team, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), started its Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign with a win over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

"Conditions were very difficult when we started playing the game. But, they are a lot more better. There are very good facilities in some centres like Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad. The future really looks bright," said Nabi.

"Afghanistan is ready for Test cricket especially after beating Zimbabwe at home and away. You can’t do that unless you play quality cricket."

“Yes, it is a fact that when my name came up for auction in the IPL, I was nervous as some of the big names went unsold by then. But once myself and Rashid (Khan) were picked by SRH, we were naturally delighted. It is a dream to play in IPL,” said Nabi.

Nabi said that Rashid and him playing in the IPL means a lot for Afghanistan. “The fan following is clearly growing,” he added.

“I know it is very tough to get into the playing XI for SRH given the very good bench strength we have. But, whenever I get the chance, I am ready to prove myself."

“We don’t feel the pressure of being the only Afghan cricketers in action this IPL. Yes, good performances by us can also help the sport in a big way. I wish many more cricketers from my country will be playing in the next IPL editions,” Nabi said.

“Yes, eagerly awaiting to meet (SRH's mentor) Muthiah Muralitharan to pick up a few tricks in the art of off-spin,” he said.