After Rashid Khan, he is considered to be the most talented spinner from Afghanistan. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, the 17-year old cricketer who is currently playing Indian Premier League for Kings XI Punjab, gives time to CricketSoccer.com for an exclusive chat. He opens up about his journey and his dream and claimed that Afghanistan can compete with the best in the cricketing world.
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer (CS): You came into limelight at a very young age. How is the journey so far?
Mujeeb Ur Rahman (MR): It has been a journey worth remembering for me. I never thought of becoming a cricketer. I lost my father when I was very young. I was raised by my maternal uncle. I used to watch cricket on television out of curiosity only. Then came the 2012 T20 World Cup and it changed my life. The Afghanistan national team participated in that World Cup. And all of a sudden I fall in love with the game of cricket. I took a tennis ball and started playing the game with my friends. Then I got admission at the Noor academy and started to play the game. I was 12 years of age then. Then I went to the Khost Province Academy. I watched videos of Ajantha Mendis. I observed how he turns the ball and tried to imitate him. After a short while, I realized that I can turn the ball as well. One day, Khaleq Daad Noori, the Afghanistan U19 assistant coach, saw me bowling at the academy nets and he selected me for the Under 19 national team. I never looked back.
CS: How inspired are you to see Rashid Khan establishing himself in international cricket?
MR: Ohh, Rashid Bhai is a big inspiration to me. And why only me, he has set examples to every Afghan cricketer who dreams to make it larger. Rashid Bhai is a world class spinner and he knows his job well. He’s capable of bowling against any batsman in the world. He has caused problems around the world. Being a wrist spinner, he can become dangerous in any kind of surface. Rashid Bhai makes us believe in our potential.
CS: You have often described as a mystery spinner who, in spite of being an off-spinner, can bowl leg spin. Does it make you more deceptive as a bowler?
MR: Yes, I admit that I can turn the ball both ways. But I don’t believe in the concept of mystery bowler. There is nothing mysterious. Rather, you may say that I am a different type of spinner. Having said that, I would admit that as a spinner, I become tougher to read as I can bowl both off and leg spin.
CS: You chose to play professional cricket. Did your family support you?
MR: Fortunately for me, a number of my family members play cricket which is why they were very supportive of me. We sometimes play matches within the members of the family. I even learnt a few things by playing such matches. I am thankful to my family.
CS: Afghanistan qualified for the 2019 world cup cricket. Do you think it will create a mass attraction for the game in your country?
MR: Already there is huge excitement as we have qualified for this mega event. Not a lot of people believed we could qualify for the world cup. After the support we received back home, social media messages and all, the dream was kept alive. It was not just the dream of us the team, it was the dream of Afghanistan. But we are feeling that extra bit of responsibility as well. We have to repay our countrymen the love and support that they blessed on us. We want to make them proud by playing some good cricket.
CS: How hopeful are you to leave a mark in the world cup?
MR: Look, if you asked me this question 2 years back, I would not be able to give any concrete answer. But now we have the belief that we can compete with the best in the cricketing world. Our performance will prove our worth. We earned the place where we are right now. It was a big, big struggle. But we are confident now. We believe in our potential. Hopefully, we will do well in the world cup. We just have to ensure that we do all our hard work. We should prepare well. Only then we can expect some positive result.