Afghanistan cricketer Noor Ahmad grabbed headlines after he was acquired for INR 30 lakh by new franchise Team Gujarat in the Indian T20 League 2022 mega auction held in Bengaluru last month.
Born in Herat, Afghanistan, Ahmad followed his compatriots Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman in bagging an Indian T20 League contract.
Interestingly, the 17-year-old became the youngest player to be sold in the Indian T20 League 2022 mega auction.
The left-arm wrist-spinner recently impressed while playing for Afghanistan’s U-19 side in the ICC Under-19 World Cup held in the Caribbean. He ended the tournament with 10 wickets in six matches at an economy of 3.81.
Noor Ahmad was born on January 5, 2005 in Afghanistan. The young spinner idolizes Afghanistan spin-bowling sensation Rashid Khan, South Africa legend AB de Villiers and former India captain Virat Kohli.
At the age of 12, Ahmad began his cricketing journey playing for Herat province’s U-16 team in the Alokozay Provincial Tournament in 2017.
He later made his first-class debut for Kabul Region in the 2019 Ahmad Shah Abdali four-day tournament. Ahmad made his list-A debut for Mis Ainak Region in the Ghazi Amanullah Khan Regional One Day Tournament in October 2020.
Playing for T20 franchises across the globe
When he was just 15, Melbourne Renegades roped in Noor Ahmad for the 2020-21 edition of the Big Bash League. Ahmad featured in the same team alongside Mohammad Nabi and South Africa leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
While at the tournament, Ahmad soon became the youngest player ever to feature in BBL history after he made his debut against Hobart Hurricanes. Under the leadership of Shaun Marsh, the Afghanistan teenager ended with impressive figures of 4-0-27-1 on debut after dismissing Peter Handscomb for the first scalp in his BBL career.
Impressed with his left-arm wrist spinner, Team Chennai included Ahmad as a net bowler in their squad for Indian T20 League 2021.
The Afghanistan spinner also made his Pakistan Super League debut for Karachi Kings in 2021 before representing Galle Gladiators in the Lanka Premier League and Quetta Gladiators in the recently concluded PSL season.
Following such exposure, a 17-year-old Ahmad received his maiden senior call-up against Pakistan for Afghanistan’s One-Day International series. However, he is yet to make his senior debut.
Indian T20 League to be launchpad for Afghan senior team debut?
While it’s only a matter of time before he does go on to make his senior national debut for Afghanistan, it’s worth mentioning that the Indian T20 League has proved to be the perfect breeding ground for launching international careers for both Indian and international players in the past.
It has fast tracked many careers, setting players up for international success following a baptism by fire in the ultra competitive environment that only the Indian T20 League can offer.
The league’s sink or swim environment is ideal for separating the real deal from the pretenders and if Ahmad can pass this litmus test, he can be rest assured that he can crack it at international level with the elite. Going by how Afghans have performed in the Indian T20 League in the past, it’s safe to say that Ahmad looks set to be a success.
While his tender age is likely to be tested in the Indian T20 League’s unforgiving environment, Gujarat’s faith in buying a relatively unknown teenager indicates that they along with a host of other franchises who were interested in him know that Ahmad is a special talent and he’s likely to make his breakthrough sooner rather than later.
Featured photo: ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP