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An interview with Mujeeb Ur Rahman

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Mujeeb_Ur_Rahman_Mujeeb_Zadran_Afghanistan_CricketBorn on March 28, 2001, 17-year-old Mujeeb Ur Rahman, also known as Mujeeb Zadran, is the first male cricketer born in the 21st century to play at the international level. Earlier this year, the off and sometimes leg spinner became the third Afghanistan player to be picked up by an IPL franchise. Kings XI Punjab handed the youngster a hefty pay-check of Rs. 4 crore, in return for which they got 14 wickets in 11 games at an economy of 6.99.

Zadran, who hails from Afghanistan’s Khost district, shot to fame when he claimed four wickets on his international debut against Ireland last year. Besides this, he was the leading wicket-taker in the 2017 ACC Under-19 Asia Cup, helping Afghanistan win their maiden title.

In an exclusive and brief chat with HoldingWilley, the right-arm spin-wiz talks about his experience of playing in the IPL, Ravichandran Ashwin’s support, the upcoming one-off Test against India and his favourite places of interest in the country.

How was the experience of playing in your maiden IPL season? What did you learn from the tournament?

My first ever experience of playing in the IPL was a great learning curve. Sharing the dressing room with star players like Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuvraj Singh was something that every budding cricketer dreams of. There was so much to learn from them, be it their hard work and commitment towards the game, or the way they train at the gym and the healthy diet they follow. I am trying to incorporate all of the same in my routine now.

How did it feel to play under a bowling captain in Ravi Ashwin? Did he give you any special tips?

Ashwin is one of the best and most experienced bowlers of India, so obviously I learnt a lot from him, both on and off the field. Every time there was pressure on me during a game, he would come and advise me to stay calm and not let myself down. “Bowl like a tiger and never leave your line and length. Let the batsman attack you for you to make mistakes and learn from it,” he would always tell me.

How excited are you about playing Afghanistan's first ever Test match in Bangalore? What are your preparations for it?

Most members of our team are in India since the past seven months to prepare for the historic Test, which will mark a new dawn in Afghanistan cricket. All of us are desperately looking forward to the game which will see us make our Test debut. It’s a huge thing for us, but apart from the normal preparations in the nets, we don’t have any such off-beat plans.

As we all know, Afghanistan is often disrupted by violence. Have you faced any such violence personally?

Not really, but I can recall the bomb blast which took place in front of the stadium during the Shpageeza league. That was very unfortunate at a time when we are trying to make rapid strides in international cricket. I really hope things improve and change in the near future.

How did you develop so many deliveries and who was your inspiration behind the same?

I closely follow all matches of Sunil Narine and Ravichandran Ashwin, and also watch YouTube videos which show spin bowling. I have tried to learn as much as I could solely with the help of videos, and then I try to practice the same in the nets. This has helped me to mix variations.

What do you like the most about India and its people?

I like the chicken biryani in India, the many places of shopping and the country’s history. The Taj Mahal and a few famous mosques are my favourite places of interest here. From what I have observed, India is an utterly cricket-crazy nation and thus we also love playing in front of them.

 

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