One Rashid Khan could be a handful for a batting line-up. Imagine having to face a left-handed Rashid from the other end.
Rajasthan Royals found out that wasn’t a particularly pleasant experience at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Friday night. Noor Ahmad, the 18-year-old left-arm wrist-spinner from Afghanistan, is turning out to be one of the emerging stars of the IPL this season.
He took two wickets for Gujarat Titans in its crushing victory against Royals, and proved a perfect foil for his more famous fellow-countryman. From six matches so far, he has taken 10 wickets.
Noor’s first game was against Royals at Ahmedabad, coming in as an Impact Player. His maiden wicket was a big one – Sanju Samson, whom he had mistiming a shot to long-off after being hit for a four and a six.
Noor has since found a regular place in the Titans eleven, and has justified the management’s faith in him. Look at the way he foxed Devdutt Padikkal and knocked down his off-stump in the last match; it wasn’t dissimilar from Rashid’s dismissal of R. Ashwin a few overs before.
Noor must be pleased with the similarity: all he wanted was to bowl just like his hero. But Rashid and Titans’ assistant coach Aashish Kapoor told him to develop a style of his own.
Nobody would be happier with Noor’s success than Aashish. The former India off-spinner was the one who brought him to the Titans camp.
“I told (Titans coach) Ashish Nehra , you pick whoever you want, but let me pick one guy, that’s Noor,” Aashish said. “For me, he was a left-handed Rashid Khan. If you want Rashid at whatever amount and you’re getting another one who is a left-hander... they can be a deadly combination.”
Aashish had been tracking Noor’s progress from his days in junior cricket. “He played against the strong India Under-19 team and was never scared,” he said. “We lost some matches or won narrowly because of him.”
Noor has already played in franchise leagues elsewhere before realising his IPL dream. “And he could be a better batter than Rashid,” the proud coach warned.