Rashid Khan remains Afghanistan’s original spider king, but Mujeeb Ur Rahman emerged as a rising star from its shadow to have an immediate impact on the 20 World Cup. The 20-year-old beat the opposition batsmen on Monday with his mysterious turn to return T20’s best figures of 5-20 in Afghanistan’s 130 runs from Scotland in Sharjah. Mujeeb bowled, bounced and googled with equal fraud and took 30 wickets in 20 matches in the shortest format since his debut as a 16-year-old in February 2018.
“Congratulations to our nation and this is my first player of the match in a World Cup,” Mujeeb, who played his first match ever in the T20 World Cup, told his countrymen cheering their team under the new Taliban regime has.
“The people who support us here have given me a lot of positive energy. Fans have supported us and that is one reason why we have played well,” he added.
Afghanistan’s cricket has faced tough chances, including the possibility of being banned from the tournament if the women’s game is stopped by the Taliban.
However, the players set aside the turmoil to focus on the T20 World Cup, with captain Mohammad Nabi saying we are well “prepared”.
Mujeeb, who comes from a humble family in the Khost town of the war-torn region, beat Scotland’s top and middle order and took three wickets in his first over, including two in consecutive deliveries.
– ‘Wizard’ –
By the time senior spinner Rashid came under attack in the seventh over of the Scotland chase, Mujeeb’s heroic deeds – 4-14 in three overs – had already reduced the Scots to 37-5.
He bowled three googlies – a leg-spinner who turns and turns to a right-handed batsman – to send Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer, Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington back to the pavilion.
Rashid took four wickets when the spinning duo got nine between them and Nabi said, “The world knows we have some good spinners in the form of Rashid and Mujeeb.”
Former Afghanistan coach Andy Moles described Mujeeb as a “complete package” and the youngster justified the compliment with excellent performances in the u.19 stage.
Mujeeb claimed a five-wicket score in Afghanistan’s historic triumph at the U-19 Asia Cup where he beat Pakistan in the final.
He finished the tournament with 20 wickets in five games.
Mujeeb made his big breakthrough in the lucrative Indian Premier League when Kings XI Punjab – now Punjab Kings – bought him for $ 630,000 in the 2018 edition.
He played in Afghanistan’s first ever Test match against India in June 2018. The match was also his first-class debut.
That same year, Hampshire signed Mujeeb for the T20 blast with Colin Munro of New Zealand.
“Mujeeb, he’s a magician. He has all the tricks in the trade. Very very remarkable young boy. He has every ball you can come across,” said a Hampshire teammate.
Mujeeb recently played in the Hundred for Northern Superchargers.
Mujeeb once said that Indian captain Virat Kohli “was his biggest wicket”, but with his career just beginning, Afghanistan will still expect many memorable scalps from the prince of spin.
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