Nabi: ‘This is the happiest day in my life’

“Tears came into my eyes as well when I was selected”

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Veteran Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi has revealed that he became very emotional after being bought at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction on Monday.

Nabi became the first player from Afghanistan to secure an IPL deal after he was snapped up by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for his base price of INR 30 lakhs.

Nabi does have experience of playing in domestic Twenty20 competitions as he has competed in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and Pakistan Super League (PSL), but he admitted that featuring in the IPL will be a whole new experience, given how popular the event is.

“This is the happiest day in my life,” Nabi told ESPNcricinfo. “I’m very happy [Sunrisers Hyderabad] picked me. A little bit of happiness tears came into my eyes as well when I was selected. It was my dream to play in the IPL and for my dream to come true, that’s why I was so happy at that moment.”

The 31-year-old is currently in Zimbabwe playing an ODI series and woke up at 5.30am to learn what his fate would be at the IPL auction.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) chief executive Shafiq Stanikzai and 150 other personnel were also following the developments live.

After captain Asghar Stanikzai and opener Mohammad Shahzad failed to attract any bids, there was a tense atmosphere in the air, but it soon turned into sheer delight after Nabi was acquired by the Sunrisers. Things continued to get better as 18-year-old spinner Rashid Khan was picked up by the same franchise for a whopping INR 4 crores.

“I leaped from my chair when the first bid was made for Nabi,” Shafiq said. “It is huge, not only for Afghanistan cricket but for the entire nation. Since cricket is the number one sport in the nation, we are on the verge of increasing our participants and making parents allow their children to invest their time more in cricket. This is a huge morale boost and motive for cricket to emerge more.

“Such achievements are giving us more energy and more motivation that we are right in our appeals and our application at ICC level that we want to become a Test nation and a Full Member. The IPL is the No. 1 T20 league in the world, and playing with the likes of David Warner and some of the other greats, being mentored by Muttiah Muralitharan and VVS Laxman, we are quite hopeful and very sure that both of them will perform better and will be ones to look at in the IPL.”

Having secured his spot in a squad for the IPL, Nabi acknowledged that there will be pressure on him to perform. But, he hopes to use the experience he gained from playing in the BPL and PSL to shine at the IPL.

“I think there’s a little bit of pressure,” Nabi said. “The IPL is big, but I have played a few times in the BPL and once at the PSL. It has given me a lot of experience, and inshallah, it will not be difficult to play at the IPL. Maybe the first two games, there will be a little bit of pressure, but after that I hope to play well in the league.

“After the BPL, I played PSL first time and it was my dream to play with Kevin Pietersen in the same team. I think I was lucky to be the first Afghanistan player selected in the IPL auction. It’s a dream to get to play with big names like Warner, Williamson, Yuvraj, Jordan and Mustafizur and also a nice coach in Tom Moody and Laxman. Playing with those big names and experiencing that, it will help me in my career and also to share the experience with my team-mates back home.”

The Logar Province native added that he is excited to play alongside Rashid and admitted he was glad to see the youngster attract so much attention at the auction.

“It’s good news that Rashid also was selected in the same team,” Nabi said. “He’s a nice guy, nice cricketer and also a nice human being. He is elite, and maybe he is showing the whole world there is a rising star in Afghanistan, so I’m very happy he is my team-mate in the IPL.

“Afghanistan cricket have a lot of achievements from the last few years. We’re in Zimbabwe and have won the first two games in this series. It’s good for the Sunrisers that Rashid will be there and it means that Afghanistan’s future is very bright that this kind of youngster is coming through quickly and shining in front of the world. It’s a bright and proud future for cricket in Afghanistan.”

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