Afghanistan’s young chinaman bowler Zahir Khan was picked up by Rajasthan Royals in the IPL 2018 auctions for the upcoming edition for Rs. 60 lakhs and he performed well in the U19 World Cup in New Zealand recently.
Rajasthan Royals recently announced that they had secured the services of their IPL winning captain Shane Warne for the upcoming IPL edition and he will be a part of the team as the mentor. This news has made Zahir very happy and he shared some views in an interview recently.
Here are the excerpts from the HindustanTimes.com interview.
Talking about getting an IPL deal, Zahir said, “Rashid and Nabi (both Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2017) made an incredible impact in the IPL. It is the most popular, successful T20 league in the world. I didn’t expect any franchise to buy someone like me, who has just played for the U-19 Afghanistan team. I was in New Zealand when the auction took place. I couldn’t believe, it’s a big deal to get an IPL contract. I was thrilled to know Mumbai Indians even bid for me.”
Talking about getting a chance to play under a mentor like Shane Warne, Zahir said, “Young spinners aspire to become Shane Warne or Muttiah Muralitharan. I was in awe of Warne when I started playing. I would watch his bowling videos on the internet and how he plotted dismissals. It would be great to have him during IPL and learn from him. IPL will give me a great opportunity to understand modern cricket from a legendary cricketer like Warne.”
Talking about the impact of players like Rashid Khan and Mohd Nabi, Zahir said, “There are challenging conditions in our country. Cricket brings smile not only on the players’ face, but also gives a reason to be happy for those who follow the game. Earlier, we would follow India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka cricketers, but now we have our own players as icons. Rashid in particular has been a great ambassador of the game. His positive feedback and reassurance about IPL made me keener to become a part of it.”
Talking about his family Zahir said, “I lost my father when I was two. My four brothers, two sisters and mother raised me in Paktika, where cricket is not popular. I started playing against their wishes, but when I excelled they supported me. I now live in Kabul and not with them. I would like to repay them with the money I earn from IPL. My brothers will be in India to watch some matches. They run electronics shops in Paktika. I want them to see Rajasthan and Mumbai. We all love Bollywood movies, so I hope to meet some stars too.”
“I was thrilled we reached the U-19 World Cup semifinals, made our presence felt. I want to deliver the goods in IPL. Afghanistan is on the cusp of creating history by playing the first Test (vs India in Bangalore in June). I hope I can be part of the national team for the historic Test, that too against Virat Kohli-led India. Virat is the most popular, most watched cricketer in Afghanistan,” Zahir said about his expectations from the IPL.