Players from Afghanistan have really made a big impact in IPL 2023. Who would have thought that an 18-year-old left-arm wristspinner, from Afghanistan, Noor Ahmed, debuting for Gujarat Titans in the second half of the tournament would turn out to be a crucial player for the team.
Or that 23-year-old Naveen Ul Haq, Afghanistan’s right arm medium pacer bowler, who made his debut from Lucknow Super Giants in the absence of Mark Wood, would turn out to be team’s main bowler in just four matches.
Another example of a brilliant run by an Afghan player is 22-year-old Rahmanullah Gurbaz debuting for Kolkata Knight Riders and turning out to be an impactful batter in the first six overs for KKR.
Before IPL 2023 commenced, apart from Rashid Khan, who plays for GT, no one had their eyes set on players from Afghanistan. And nearly all of these Afghanistan players were bought at nearly their base prices. Gurbaz was sold Rs 50 lakh, Naveen ul Haq for Rs 50 lakh, and Noor Ahmed for Rs 30 lakhs.
We take a look at players from Afghanistan who have made an impact in IPL 2023:
Kolkata Knight Riders needed an aggressive batter with a good strike-rate as an opener. The team was new in 2023 and in the absence of Shreyas Iyer, the batting order had to be changed.
Gurbaz turned out to be the perfect go-to man for KKR. Though he faltered in few matches, adjusting to the game, but he has now secured his slot as an opener in the side. In the last match against Gujarat Titans at Eden Gardens, Gurbaz made 81 off 39 balls, an inning that included 7 sixes and 5 fours.
Gurbaz’s style of play is mainly aggressive and he has been crucial fo KKR in the first six overs. In the six matches he has played, Gurbaz has been batting at a strike-rate of 145.24, scoring 183 runs at an average of 30.50.
Gurbaz will definitely be played by KKR in the next 5 matches left as KKR are languishing at seventh position on the points table, losing as many as six out of nine matches so far.
One might criticise him after his recent spat with RCB's Virat Kohli, but Naveen ul Haq has been absolutely phenomenal in the four games he has played so far for Lucknow Super Giants.
The 23-year-old right-arm medium pacer hasn’t conceded more than 30 runs in his spell in all the four matches and in the last two matches he has taken 3 wickets each.
Naveen was included in the side after Mark Wood, team’s main pacer, had to be rested because of an injury. Wood had been impressive in the four games he played, getting 11 wickets.
Avesh Khan has been average this season with only 6 wickets in 5 matches, and in the absence of Wood, the Afghan player became the lead pacer of the team.
Having good experience of T20 cricket after playing in leagues like BBL, CPL, BPL and T20 Blast, Naveen has 167 wickets in 128 matches at a good average of 22.88 and an economy rate of 8.01.
In international cricket, the pacer has performed very well and has 34 wickets in 27 matches.
Noor Ahmed has turned out to be a great surprise for Gujarat Titans. He has been economical, and bowls very smartly and according to the situation of the game.
In 2 matches he got six scalps, which includes the wickets of Rajasthan’s Sanju Samson, Mumbai Indians's Cameron Green and Suryakumar Yadav.
Even in the last match, though he went wicketless, he conceded just 20 runs in his spell, even less than team's lead spinner Rashid Khan.
Within 3 matches, Noor has become an important part of the team and is highly expected to feature in all the games for GT.
Other than these three surprise performers, Rashid Khan, as usual, has been impactful player this season. The leg-spinner has taken 15 wickets in 9 matches with an economy of 8.56.