Sharjah: Mujeeb Ur Rahman is no magician. That tag belongs to his fellow Afghan cricketer Rashid Khan, a leg-spinner with a bagful of tricks. In the national team, Mujeeb often had to toil in shade of his more famous colleague. On Tuesday, he stepped out of the shadows and led Afghanistan’s charge to seal a Super 4 berth in the DP World Asia Cup with an incisive spell in the powerplay against Bangladesh.
Bangladesh batsmen seemed clueless against his bunch of variations. Basically, an off-break bowler, Mujeeb can send down leg-breaks and googlies for good measure. Carom ball too. Like the one that got Mohammad Naim, the Bangladeshi opener. So, you can call him a mystery spinner.
One of Mujeeb’s biggest assets is his ability to bowl spin with the new ball. He has done that since his days with the Afghanistan Under-19 squad. And that came handy against the Bangladesh at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. He came into the attack soon after Fazalhaq Farooqi swung the ball around in the first over without success.
Mujeeb flicked the last delivery of his first over, and it landed outside the off stump: a carom ball. Naim never really got to the pitch of the ball and played around it. The ball sneaked between the bat and pad to castle him. And the Bangladesh dominoes started to fall.
Mujeeb trapped Anamul Haque in front with one that spun into him, past the attempted sweep. The carom ball came into play again, helping Mujeeb to clean up Bangladesh captain Shaikh Al Hasan, who was starting to take control.
Three wickets for nine runs in three overs, Mujeeb had sent Bangladesh into a tail spin. He had done his job, although he returned for one more over to finish at 4-0-16-3. His three-wicket burst was the turning point for Afghanistan.
Later, they tightened the screws on Bangladesh with Rashid Khan snaring three wickets. And Najibullah Zadran and Ibrahim Zadran knocked off the runs with ease to put Afghanistan in the Super 4.
There was little surprise when Mujeeb was adjudged the Player of the Match. The game belonged to him.