From refugee camp to match winner

January 29, 2013

Afghan cricketer Mohammad Nabi made the most of his chance to impress the capacity crowd as he put in a match-winning performance in the Bangladesh Premier League against Chittagong Kings on Monday. When the BPL was having a fan-drought Chittagong came as a big exception as the stadium was fullest to the brim much to the delight of the organisers who were, grappling with so much problems.
But it was no less a delight for Nabi, who learnt the game in a refugee camp in Pakistan, but hardly got a chance to ply his trade in front of so much crowd despite being an Afghan international for years.
He played two matches in the ICC World Twenty20 in Colombo last year, but they too were not at a crowded stadium. For Nabi, January 28, 2013 therefore came as an exception as for the first time he saw so many fans roaring in a cricket match.
This might be a regular scenario for some of the players participating in the BPL but for Nabi it was totally a new experience and he enjoyed every second of it.
He knew the crowd would not be cheering for him making it a challenge for him and Nabi was happy to overcome it successfully.
‘The biggest challenge was to play against the crowd and the noise,’ Nabi told reporters at the post-match press conference. ‘I played two matches in the World Cup but it was never like this,’ said Nabi.
In a match where battle of nerves eventually made the difference, Nabi kept his cool to fight it out against all odds. He took two fine catches and when the game was slipping out of their hands he made 43 from 26 balls to keep the contest alive.
The howling crowds were nearly taking a toll on him as he could not hear the call of Paul Stirling, making his partner run-out eventually but Nabi atoned for it in a spectacular style with his scintillating innings.
While the war-ravaged Afghanistan has earned infamy for arms and drugs, Nabi told New Age the other day that he always preferred cricket to put his country in a respectable position in the world map.
‘I wanted to play cricket because I felt this sport can give us a new identity,’ said Nabi.
‘I learnt cricket at the refugee camp in Peshawar and from those days I had a dream to be a cricketer for our country as that would give us a name in the world map.
‘By the grace of Allah we are on the right track. We are becoming stronger with regular training at a camp and are looking forward to becoming a full member of the ICC in 2015,’ he said.
‘For me the BPL is a learning ground as I could have the experience of sharing the dressing room with so many cricket stars. It helps me to grow as a cricketer as well as give the opportunity to see how players interact at different stages of a game,’ said Nabi, a keen follower of Kevin Petersen and Saeed Ajmal.

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