CRICKET Having made his mark in the current edition of the IPL, Iqbal Abdulla has set his sights high. S. Sabanayakan

Syed Iqbal Abdulla is, perhaps, the most talented left-arm spinner in the country among the emerging crop. The 21-year-old from Mumbai is one of the leading wicket takers in the ongoing Indian Premier League, season IV. With the emergence of Kolkata Knight Riders as one of the favourites to make it to the play-off round, Abdulla played a major role both as a bowler and a fielder for the Shah Rukh Khan-part owned franchise.

Early start

Originally from Uttar Pradesh, Abdulla's parents moved to Mumbai for better opportunities. Born and brought up in the megapolis, Abdulla took to cricket at a very early age. Dedication and hard work enabled this young lad to progress higher in Mumbai cricket, considered to be one of the toughest in India.

Success followed as he climbed the ladder to end up playing for the Mumbai senior team at 18. Since making his first class debut in 2007, Abdulla has not turned back. “`My success is due to hard work and my belief in God,” Abdulla says. Abdulla's major success came when he was named in the Indian Under-19 squad for the World Cup held at Kuala Lumpur in 2008. India won the crown under the captaincy of Virat Kohli and Abdulla played a key role in the success.

He was drafted into the Knight Riders as an under-19 player during the first three seasons and returned for another two seasons as an uncapped player. “We needed a specialist Indian spinner to support left-armer Shakib al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan,'' explained a KKR spokesman. Since then Abdulla has lived up to the expectations of the franchise.

He is thankful to captain Gautam Gambhir and coach Dav Whatmore. “Gambhir always helped me to perform in crunch situations. He instilled self-belief and backed me to the hilt. I have known Whatmore since the 2008 Under-19 World Cup, in Malaysia. He is a great motivator… Working with him is always a great experience.”

Abdulla has been bowling for his team either at the beginning when the power play is in place or the final few overs known as death overs. How does he handle the pressure? “I have gained enough experience in the past three years. Playing at this level with national and international stars has been a great experience. One has to be prepared for any situation, be it bowling with the new ball in the final overs… My confidence has been the key element in my success.”

He greatly appreciates the role of Shah Rukh Khan. “He's a superstar. Irrespective of a win or loss, he is always there in the dressing room telling the team not to worry about the results,” he says.

New Zealand left-arm spinner and Captain Daniel Vettori is his role model. “I love to watch him bowl; he is perhaps the best left-arm spinner in the world,” Abdulla effuses. The sky is the limit for this youngster. The senior India team is this talented man's next stop.


FACT FILE

  • Full Name: Syed Iqbal Abdulla
  • DOB: December 2, 1989, Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra
  • Age: 21 years
  • Major teams: India A, India Green
  • India Under-19s, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai
  • Playing role: Allrounder
  • Batting style: Left-hand bat
  • Bowling style: Slow left-arm orthodox

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