Afghan cricketer Rashid Khan Arman has started training with his new team-mates at Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL), while fellow Afghan Mohammad Nabi will join him soon, according to Afghanistan’s Cricket Board (ACB).
“It’s a very big achievement for ACB that our players are playing in the IPL,” a spokesman for ACB, Farid Hootak, said adding that “it will encourage youths to work hard to get into such big teams.”
Nabi meanwhile returned to Kabul with the national cricket team on Saturday after their recent win over Ireland. He will return to India to join Sunrisers Hyderabad in the next few days, said Hootak.
During last year's World T20 in India, Rashid stood out and went on to take second place in the overall wicket tally, with 11. This year he has taken 41 wickets in 17 ODIs and T20 Internationals combined.
In January, during the Desert T20 Challenge which Afghanistan won, Rashid took six wickets in four matches with a best of 2/12 versus UAE, and then a further 10 against Zimbabwe as Afghanistan won an ODI series 3-2.
More recently, in matches against Ireland at Afghanistan's adopted home in Greater Noida, Rashid proved a major irritant for Ireland with 24 wickets from three T20Is and five ODIs.
During the second ODI, which Afghanistan won by 34 runs, Rashid claimed the best figures by an Afghan bowler in the format - 6/43.
This was followed by eight wickets against Ireland in an innings-and-72-run win in Greater Noida during the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
Rashid started playing cricket in the streets of Nangarhar as a child – by batting a tennis ball.
His rise through cricket is said to be nothing short of a dream especially after being picked up recently by Sunrisers for about $600,000 USD.
"My teammates call me 'million dollar baby’. I just smile when they call me by this name. I just want to go and prove that I am a million dollar baby with my million dollar performance,” he told the media.
He said he was very excited about playing in the IPL and said he will play alongside popular cricket players like Yuvraj Singh, David Warner, Kane Williamson and Shikhar Dhawan.
“It is going to be a big opportunity for me to learn from these legends,” he said adding that he is eager to meet Tom Moody, the Sunrisers Hyderabad coach.
Rashid is not the only Afghan cricketer who will play for Sunrisers. His teammate Mohammad Nabi, the Afghan veteran allrounder, is also a force to be reckoned with.
His batting packs plenty of punch, and he has saved his team on a number of occasions. His offspin has proved devastating.
During last year's World T20, Nabi was the leading wicket-taker with 12 scalps and in the Desert T20 Challenge he was Man of the Tournament for his all-round performance.
The national cricket team’s most successful ODI and T20I bowler will enter his first IPL season with the confidence of 22 wickets and 378 runs from 17 limited-overs this year, with personal bests of 4/10 and 89 off 30 balls, both versus Ireland.
This year’s IPL kicks off on Wednesday where Sunrisers will take on Royal Challengers at the Rajiv Ghandi International Stadium in Hyderabad.