Afghanistan is relatively new in international cricket but that has not prevented them for making a mark for themselves globally already. Once a war-torn nation, the country is now making giant strides to achieving greatness in the sport. Seeing the history of cricket in Afghanistan, they don’t have a modern-day great as yet, but certainly a pioneer in his own right—Mohammad Nabi.
The former Afghanistan captain, who is their most-capped player too (98 ODIs and 60 T20s), might not be as great as the above names, but his contribution could well be termed as immense. For a major part of Afghanistan’s struggle, when the team was just trying to establish itself, Nabi captained them in 28 ODIs and won 13 of those matches. But Nabi’s biggest contribution was playing in foreign leagues that helped him get invaluable experience, which eventually helped youngsters back home.
Right from Australia, England, Pakistan, Bangladesh, West Indies he has plied his trade across the globe, and now is gearing up to appear in his second Indian Premier League. Bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs 1 crore, Nabi hopes to gain some more experience, and continue to evolve as a cricketer.
“I am very happy that SRH picked me for the second time in a row, and this just shows that they have the confidence in me, that I can do well. Tom Moody, coach of SRH has been following my game closely during the Big Bash League and ICC World Cup Qualifiers as well. That's why the management exactly knows how I'm playing, that will help me and the team during the tournament.
“It's a great feeling to be playing all over the world. I signed for Leicestershire, then I played in Australia and India, and I'm here back again. It's my dream to be a part of all these prestigious leagues. They also give me a lot of experience. There are a lot of international players who play in these leagues, and there's a lot to learn from them. That experience helps me as I pass on this to the youngsters back home. After playing in all these leagues, my confidence is also very high,” Nabi told CricketNext in an exclusive chat.
The Afghanistan team, on the back of some good performances managed to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, after winning the qualifiers beating the West Indies in the final. In this tournament Nabi was a stand-out performer for the team, and once again established himself as the leading all-rounder in the country. His rich form would keep Sunrisers in good stead too.
“My performance with the bat has been really good off late. I scored a fifty, a ninety and couple of 40-run knocks in the qualifiers. My batting came out really good, as I managed to bail the team out of trouble in tough situations, being a senior player. That was satisfying as I did for myself and the team as well. I hope I can contribute in SRH’s success as well.”
Right before the start of the tournament, SRH’s hopes of doing well in the tournament had taken a severe blow as their former captain David Warner was barred from IPL for his involvement In ball tampering scandal. But Nabi did not sound perturbed about the issue. For him, the team can still do well if each player contributes.
“A player being part of the team or not being part of the team is normal. It happens all the time. I think every player needs to step up their game, and I think we can do well. It is just a matter of getting the team combination right. And I'm sure that everyone will perform well throughout the league.
“We have got good all-rounders and bowlers in the team, those two departments are really strong for us. So we can do well in the tournament,” he added.
For Nabi, there is a lot to look forward to post IPL. After being awarded the Test status by ICC, Afghanistan will be playing their first-ever Test against hosts India in June. The veteran is excited about playing debut match against world no. 1 team.
“We are really looking forward to playing our first Test against India. We will get to learn a lot playing against the no.1 side in the world. It was a dream to play Test cricket, and that is going to become a reality soon. We started from zero. We covered this distance in just 15-16 years. We are ready for the challenges of Tests.
“Everyone back home is supporting cricket now. Youngsters play a lot of cricket back home, so the scene is really improving. Everyone loves their cricket. So the future for us is really bright,” he signed off.
First Published: April 9, 2018, 8:53 AM IST