After KL Rahul’s brilliant 51 off 16 balls, Karun Nair made sure that the eventual honours were bagged by Kings XI Punjab in their match against Delhi Daredevils today. However, the star of the show was Afghan newbie, Mujeeb ur Rahman, who announced himself to the cricketing world in fine style.
Mujeeb ur Rahman’s day to shine under the sun
His is not a stereotypical Afghan story of struggle and sacrifice. He didn’t have to go through the difficulties of refugee camps to establish himself. Unlike most of his teammates in the Afghanistan team, Rahman grew up in a mansion in the town of Khost, 250 kilometers south-east of Kabul. While hardships were never there, he learnt that he had to work hard to be noticed among the rapidly-rising cricketing talents in the country and who better to guide him than Rashid Khan.
Today, when the 17-year-old was scampering at his bowling crease, it was easily evident that there was a bit of urgency to his approach, which is eerily similar to his more famous compatriot. Mujeeb is a leggie and the quick arm movements right until the end of the release is a crucial part of his box of tricks. He, at the end of the day, did exactly what batsmen all around the world have been doing to his tribe of bowlers - making them punching bags and minimising the margin of error.
After being asked to bowl inside the powerplay, he could have been forgiven to letting nerves get to him, but his high level of skill, which was praised by many former cricketers during the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year, not only flummoxed the Delhi batsmen, but also derailed the slowly building partnership between Gambhir and Pant. However, the most important aspect of his bowling was the way he moved his arm around before releasing the ball, making the Delhi batsmen panic and forcing them to go for premeditated shots, which eventually proved costly.
KL Rahul’s manic 15 minutes
KL Rahul has always been a special player in the shortest format and it required a lot of guts for any team to let a player of his caliber go and ask Royal Challengers Bangalore how tough it was for them. Today, when Rahul, the maniac Rahul, stepped onto the field, he had his task cut out - to live up to the lofty reputations that he has created for himself after the auction. And boy, did he just do enough to vindicate the faith?
What started with a heap over short fine leg in the first over instantly progressed to 51 in literally no time. Mayank Agarwal, his teammate at Karnataka, had the best seat in the stadium to see the carnage and patiently waited for taking his score beyond 1, but by then, Rahul had already completed the fastest half-century in the IPL. His innings also laid the perfect foundation for the Punjab middle-order to guide the team home in a canter.
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