Bangalore: Over the distant crackle of the mobile phone, the excitement in their voice was unmistakable. It was understandable too as Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan had just bagged Indian Premier League (IPL) contracts – first-ever cricketers from Afghanistan to enter the lucrative T20 league.
Defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad drafted in 32-year-old off-spinner Nabi and 18-year-old leg-spinner Rashid into their squad for Rs 30 lakh and R4 crore respectively at the auction held here yesterday.
Nabi said he woke up around 5am to follow the auction. "In fact, it was a restless night. We were thinking if anyone of us gets picked up in the auction, it would be a massive day for Afghanistan cricket. Now, it has happened. Along with the personal achievement, we feel that it's an honour for Afghan cricket and this will certainly boost several young cricketers in our country," said Nabi, a former national captain, from Harare.
Nabi said he was nervous after his teammate Asghar Stanikzai went unsold in the auction. "Stanikzai was the first Afghan player to go under hammer and nobody bid for him. Then my turn came and I wasn't expecting to get picked up. However, Hyderabad selected me and it was one of happiest moment – first player from Afghanistan to appear in the IPL.
Later the joy doubled as Rashid too was selected," he said. Rashid too was elated. "I have always looked up to Nabi bhai. Now, when I got a chance to play in the IPL, he is there alongside me. I can't be happier," he said.
Rashid, an admirer of AB de Villiers, said: "AB plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore, and hopefully, I can meet and have a chat with him."