Teams Played For
Afghanistan, Chittagong Vikings, Kent, Kent 2nd XI, Leicestershire, Marylebone Cricket Club, Melbourne Renegades, Pakistan Customs, Quetta Gladiators, Rangpur Rangers, St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Sylhet Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders
You ask him to play the big shots, he will do that. You ask him to anchor the innings when your team is in trouble, he will do that. You ask him to bowl in a crucial juncture of a match and pick wickets, he will do that. He is none other than the Afghan legend, Mohammad Nabi. He might not be like Rashid Khan or someone flamboyant like Mohammad Shehzad, he is still the most sought-after player in the country, and his level-headed approach towards the game makes him a special talent. He had a huge role to play in Afghanistan’s sensational rise in world cricket and continues to be one of their most important players, if not the most.
The infrastructure of Afghanistan cricket is not ideal. In a country where war is a prevalent issue, cricket is not only a sort of recreation for players and the fans, it also provides a sense of calmness and hope amidst the storm and Mohammad Nabi has been the greatest flagbearer in this regard. He has been with the Afghanistan team from the early 2000s and the rise of Afghanistan and Nabi has happened quite simultaneously.
Making his ODI debut against Scotland in 2009, Nabi has gone on to become one of the legends of Afghan cricket, and his rise as an all-round cricketer definitely helped Afghanistan qualify for their first World event in 2010. They qualified for the T20 World Cup but it took them some time to establish themselves in the biggest of stages.
The all-rounder took up cricket at a very early age. Owing to a situation of turmoil in Afghanistan, Nabi shifted to Peshawar in Pakistan and started polishing his skills by playing a lot of tennis ball and tape ball cricket. He trained at the Arshad Khan academy in Peshawar and it was for that particular club that Nabi made his competitive debut against Rahim Yar Khan Cricket Association. He impressed with a bat with a knock of 61 but his actual moment of recognition came in a tour of India when he was noticed by Mike Gatting, a former batting great from England.
He smashed a century against a visiting MCC side and his transition to top-level cricket happened rather quickly. Nabi played a major role when Afghanistan qualified for the World Cup Qualifiers in 2009. It was indeed a special moment for Afghanistan and Nabi. There was no looking back for Nabi as he kept taking giant strides in international cricket.
Nabi smashed a debut first century in the Intercontinental Cup. He smashed a sensational 102 in the game against Zimbabwe XI. He was appointed as the skipper for the Asian Games but was later replaced by Nowraz Mangal. He kept playing T20 leagues and competitions all across the globe and soon became a highly regarded cricketer in the foreign leagues.
In 2019, Nabi was added to Afghanistan’s squad for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup and he delivered the expectations with the bowl, picking up 10 wickets in 9 matches. Nabi finished the tournament as the leading wicket-taker for Afghanistan. In September 2019, Nabi announced his retirement from Test cricket after a match against Bangladesh to completely focus on the limited-overs format.
Owing to his exceptional all-round abilities, he was on the radar of IPL teams and SRH found themselves quite lucky to acquire his services for just Rs 30 lakhs ahead of the 2017 edition of the IPL. Released before the major auctions in 2018, he was bought again by the Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping amount of INR 1 crore. He got the longest run in a season in 2019 when he featured in 8 games that included a 4-wicket haul. After a decent season, he was sidelined for the 2020 IPL season, when Nabi played just one game. Nabi is one handy cricketer to have and it will be interesting to see how the franchise uses Nabi in their scheme of things for the upcoming IPL. Being a crucial member of the Afghanistan limited-over squad, the burden of the whole country will be on his shoulders as one of the most dependable all-rounders in the 2021 ICC T20 World Cup.
(As of March 2021)