Afghanistan mystery spinner, Mujeeb Zadran, says tricks of the trade learnt from Ravichandran Ashwin in the Indian Premier League (IPL) will come in handy during his team’s inaugural Test against India, beginning in Bengaluru from Thursday.
Having made his domestic debut only in August last year, the 17-year-old spin sensation has risen rapidly to become a key member of the national team alongside lead spinner Rashid Khan. Ashwin taught him a mystery ball in the Kings XI Punjab nets during the IPL and Mujeeb said he is going use that against India.
“I spent a lot of time with Ashwin at the nets and it was really helpful. He told me spots where to bowl. He has also taught me a new ball and I am trying to learn it. It is a carrom ball with an off-spin action,” Mujeeb, who forms a potent spin attack with Rashid, said.
He has not played a first-class game yet but Mujeeb’s successful stints in the IPL, U-19 World Cup and with the national team in shorter formats have made him “fearless“. “I have played high-level cricket already so there is no fear going into the Test. Thanks to the IPL, I know how to handle pressure. I don’t fear playing against any opposition. It used to play on my mind but not anymore,” he said.
The Khost-born cricketer spins the ball both ways and has a very effective googly, which even foxed Virat Kohli in the IPL.
Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai has gone on to say that his spin department, comprising Rashid, Mujeeb, Mohammad Nabi and Rahmat Shah, is even better than India.
Three out of the four spinners played in the recently-concluded IPL and will have a fair idea of what to expect from the Bengaluru pitch.
Mujeeb is one of them and having spent more than a month with Ashwin, he is ready to use the gained wisdom against the KXIP captain.
“I have already figured out how to go about my business (during the Test). Virat Kohli is not playing but there are other batsmen like Ajinkya Rahane and Lokesh Rahul who are also very good. We won’t be taking anyone lightly.
“The good thing is that I have already played against and alongside the big players in the IPL. I will utilise all of that in the Test.”
Asked if the occasion could get the better of him in Bengaluru, he said: “You always play with a motive and it is a matter of great pride for me that Afghanistan are playing their first Test and I am also part of the squad.”
Mujeeb is one of the few Afghan cricketers who don’t speak Hindi, therefore, a translator sat by his side during the interaction where he spoke in Pashto. And how did he communicate in the multi-lingual IPL?
“I understand all languages (the way you are asking me in Hindi). Basically, I understand the language of cricket. Whatever they used to discuss about the game, I had no issues comprehending it,” added the wily operator whose favourite ball is a googly.