When Afghanistan finished the group stages of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers with three successive defeats and a mere two points against their name, they were all but out of the tournament. Interestingly the only silver lining in their frustrating campaign was young Mujeeb Ur Rahman with nine wickets from four games at an impressive economy rate of 3.74 and an average of 16.22.
A team in a shipwreck, Afghanistan turned up in the first game of the Super Sixes against West Indies. Opening the bowling, Mujeeb trapped Chris Gayle and then returned in the middle overs to dismiss Shai Hope and Jason Holder and broke the back of their batting order. He ended with figures of 10-1-33-3 which ensured that his team chased down a modest total and registered a miraculous win.
The spark that Mujeeb displayed rubbed off on the entire team as they won four consecutive matches and beat West Indies in the finals to be crowned champions. Their blue-eyed boy ended the tournament with 17 wickets from 8 matches and was the torchbearer in Afghanistan’s campaign. He averaged a stingy 16.41 with his best reserved for the final, his 4 for 43 restricting the Caribbean to yet another diffident total.
Mujeeb bowled with the new ball in the powerplays and yet delivered a staggering 68 percentage of dot balls. He has watched Sunil Narine, Ajantha Mendis and his KXIP skipper, Ravichandran Ashwin on YouTube and learned how to grip the ball and flick it using the fingers to bowl a carrom ball.
The Harfanmaula (man with many abilities) of modern-day spinners, his skill to bowl all variations of off-spin and leg-spin with little variation in his action has paid dividends.
Only just turned 17 and weeks before his maiden season in the Indian Premier League, his performance is timely for Kings XI Punjab.