IPL in UAE: Kings XI Punjab hope their Prince Mujeeb Ur Rahman can peak

Dubai: The Kings XI Punjab are hoping their young spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s performance at the Caribbean Premier League was only a perfect dress rehearsal for in time for the Indian Premier League (IPL) starting in the UAE from September 19.

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Called the ‘mystery spinner’, Mujeeb left an indelible mark in the 2020 edition of the CPL with his franchise Jamaica Tallawahs making it to the semi-finals before being mauled by Kieron Pollard’s Trinbago Knight Riders.

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But, much to their delight, the 19-year-old Mujeeb turns to the UAE as the joint-top wicket-taker of the six-team competition.

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The Kings XI Punjab off-break bowler picked up 16 wickets in the CPL competition, leading the honours for most scalps in the tournament along with New Zealand’s Scott Kuggeleijn. While the teenage sensation may not be in the final of the competition on Thursday, he can still leave the Caribbean with his head held high.

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The bowler from Afghanistan picked up at least one wicket in eight out of his 11 games, and was named man of the match on one occasion as well. Mujeeb picked up three wickets in three consecutive matches for his franchise, conceding less than a run a ball on all of those occasions.

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“Apart from being the current joint-top wicket-taker of the 2020 CPL edition, Mujeeb was also one of the most economical bowlers for his franchise, despite bowling a bulk of his overs in the powerplay,” the Kings XI Punjab website noted. “The youngster maintained an economy rate of 5.3 runs per over in the competition, and conceded in excess of 24 runs on just three occasions in the competition. He did admirably in the semis as well against an unbeaten Trinbago Knight Riders side, picking the only wicket of the innings and maintaining an economy rate of six an over.”

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Others from the CPL who will be making an appearance alongside Mujeeb for KXIP will be West Indies stars like Nicholas Pooran and Sheldon Cottrell, who have also impressed in the 2020 season. Pooran displayed a lot of grit scoring the only century of the competition so far, while Cottrell too looked sharp in the early parts of the season, picking up three wickets in his first two games.

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The CPL 2020 had six Afghani cricketers – Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Najibullah Zadran and Zahir Khan – and the Afghanistan Cricket Board allowed them all to continue till the end of the tournament. All of them had earlier been scheduled to get back on time for the local Shpageeza T20 League that got under way last Sunday.

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The trio of KXIP players are expected to head straight to the UAE and join the rest of the squad, after which they would all have to undergo the mandatory six-day quarantine and have the likelihood of being ready for their team’s opener against the Delhi Capitals, at 6pm on September 20.

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