How Mohammad Nabi's experience helps Rashid Khan
Nabi claimed 2/21 – sending down three Powerplay overs en route – and also hammered a nine-ball 17* to help beat Delhi Capitals at the Feroz Shah Kotla. It was just his seventh match for Sunrisers Hyderabad over three years, but he has been effective almost every game he has played for them. In the previous match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, he took 4/11 and on Thursday, his efforts won him the Player of the Match award as Hyderabad went to the top of the table.
“We wait for the opportunity, and when we get it, we try to give 110%. That is our key to success,” he later said.
Nabi, 34, has been Afghanistan’s bedrock going back to the days they played WCL Division 5 cricket. Over the years, his role has changed though. He lends balance and, crucially, experience to the team, and that is something Rashid Khan, for one, makes the most of.
“When Rashid and I play together, either in the national team or any other team, that is when I have to help him a little bit in terms of what the batsman is thinking or what kind of fields to set,” said Nabi. “If you bowl a lot of dot balls, then the batsman will definitely make a mistake. If you only chase wickets, you won’t get any wickets, and you’ll get hit. Most of our discussions is about placing the correct fielding positions.
“If the batsmen do not get singles, then it is hard to score against Rashid since he is a different type of a spinner. He is quick, sharp, his googly is not usually readable, and hence, they take more time against him and that is when they make a mistake.”
So much that Nabi’s primary role with Afghanistan is to contain the opposition, and let Rashid and Mujeeb Ur Rahman do the talking. “Rashid and Mujeeb are our wicket-taking bowlers,” he said. “I generally bowl after the first 10 overs, and my role is to restrict the batsmen and to get dot balls so that it benefits my team.
“Rashid and Mujeeb, whoever is bowling, can then capitalise on that pressure at the other end. That is usually the plan when we play.”
That is perhaps indicative of the backseat finger spinners have taken in recent years, but Nabi won’t mind so long as he’s influencing victories.