Afghanistan mystery spinner is bamboozling the best with his variations.
Last month, he got the wicket of Chris Gayle. Twice. Now, he can claim Virat Kohli among his victims. Seventeen-year-old Mujeeb ur Rahman’s 2018 is getting better and better.
The young Afghanistan off-spinner, whose variations and that bit of mystery to his bowling make him hard to read, has settled in nicely to life on the big stage since his eye catching performance in the ICC Under 19 World Cup 2018 in New Zealand.
During the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier that followed in Zimbabwe, he became the youngest player to claim a five-wicket haul in ODIs, breaking the record set by Pakistan’s legend Waqar Younis. He was a key player in his team’s remarkable comeback to win the title, and proved to be Gayle’s nemesis.
In the meantime, he was bought for approximately $630,000 by the Indian Premier League franchise Kings XI Punjab to feature in the 2018 edition of the Twenty20 competition.
In his two games so far, IPL’s youngest player has three wickets and has been extremely economical.
In fact, on Friday 13 April, against a star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore line-up, he conceded just three runs in his first two overs, and finished his opening three-over spell with 1/10. That one wicket was the big one of Kohli, who was completely bamboozled by the delivery he got – a back of the hand googly.
Rashid Khan, Rahman’s senior and a path-breaker in T20 bowling himself, was first to hail his international team-mate. “What a ball to dismiss [Kohli], absolutely amazing to watch,” he tweeted.
Washington Sundar, India’s up and coming 18-year-old off-spinner, was on the opposition, but was all praise for his contemporary.
"To be honest, to be able to bowl with a lot of variations at this stage, I think we need to give a lot of credit to him. He bowls googly, he bowls off-spin and he bowls carrom ball as well. So it is not that easy to read him or pick him from his fingers.
“But I think as we play a lot of games against them, I think everyone will be OK against him."
It wasn’t all roses for Rahman however. In his final over, his figures were ruined by a rampaging AB de Villiers, who smashed him for two sixes and a four. Yet, it is all a part of the youngster’s learning curve.
Mithun Manhas, assistant coach for Rahman’s franchise, hailed the bowler’s temperament.
“He’s been bowling pretty well considering that he’s just 16-17, and he’s bowling in the Powerplay against one of the best batsmen in the world. He got hit in just one over, but I think he had good figures. He’s been excellent.”