16-year-old Mujeeb Zadran became only the 3rd player from Afghanistan to be picked up by an Indian Premier League team. Kings XI Punjab purchased the young offspinner for INR 4 crores at the auction. Zadran recalls when used to watch YouTube videos of Sunil Narine and Ajantha Mendis, to learn cricket at a young age.
Afghanistan cricket has seen a meteoric rise in past 2-3 years, they have not only done exceedingly well in world cricket but Afghanistani cricketers have made a name for themselves in various T20 leagues across the world. Mujeeb Zadran has already played 3 international ODI’s and was part of the Afghanistan team that reached the semi-final of ongoing Under-19 ICC World Cup.
In an auction which saw some of the world best bowlers going unsold, it was pretty surprising to see Kings XI Punjab hand him such a big contract. Unlike other players from Afghanistan, Mujeeb hasn’t had to face much hardship during his growing up days as he was brought up in a huge mansion, which included a big ground and many guest rooms.
At the age of 12, Mujeeb Zadran joined his cousin and Afghanistan cricketer Noor Zadran’s academy and later shifted to the Kost Province Academy. During his initial days he struggled to grip the ball and that is when Youtube videos of Sunil Narine and Ajantha Mendis helped him learn the art of gripping. His true love for the game started after watching his country participate in the 2010 T20 World Cup.
Speaking about his struggle with spin bowling Mujeeb Zabran said, as reported by Crictracker,
“I started playing a lot of tape ball cricket. While bowling with that ball, I struggled to grip it, so I started flicking the ball with my fingers. Then, I watched some youtube videos of Sunil Narine and Ajantha Mendis and learned how they gripped the ball and flicked it with their middle finger.
“I started doing that and initially did not put power behind it. It would be like a flighted off-spinner, but slowly, and after a lot of practice, I eventually began to get some power behind my deliveries and was able to flick it harder”
There is no doubting the fact that Kings XI Punjab have got a future star in their ranks for the upcoming season. With a host international players in their squad, Mujeeb might find it difficult to break into the playing XI but if and when he does, he must take his chances and make his place permanent in the team.