If there was a story to be made on the rise of Afghanistan Cricket then it will be incomplete without bringing up the name of Mohammad Nabi. From the lowest of lows to the euphoria of playing first Test in the international arena to playing in the 50-over World Cup, Mohammed Nabi has broken several glass-ceilings throughout his career.
It is hard to fly under the radar when you are one of the country's best cricket talents. But that is precisely what Afghanistan cricket all-rounder Mohammad Nabi has been able to do. A middle-order batsman who is capable of playing according to the situation and a crafty off-spinner who makes the most of his talents with the ball, Mohammad Nabi's story is almost as staggering as Afghanistan cricket rise in the international arena.
Mohammed Nabi: Along the Years
First Class debut
ODI debut against Scotland
T20I debut against Ireland
Qualified and played the 2010 World T20
Qualified for the T20 WC
Played in the 50-over CWC
Bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad
Played Afghanistan's first ever Test match
Announced retirement from Tests
Fastest fifty by an Afghan cricketer in T20Is
First bowler for Afghanistan to take 100 wickets in ODIs
Mohammad Nabi was born in Afghanistan but moved to Peshawar, Pakistan as his family sought a safe haven, away from the war in Afghanistan. At the age of 10, Nabi first took up cricket and like most kids, it was a career that started with plenty of tennis ball cricket. He started training at Arshad Khan's academy in Peshawar and rapidly rose through the ranks.
Nabi's cricket career has taken him to Pakistan, where he made his List-A debut with Pakistan Customs, England where he made his first-class debut with Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
His first taste of top-flight professional cricket came as he was part of an MCC side, who was taking on Sri Lanka A at Arundel in a tour match in July 2007. That came about courtesy of a century against a visiting MCC side on a tour of India, which was seen by Mike Gatting, who promptly brought him to play for the MCC.
Mohammad Nabi made history as he was one of two Afghanistan players bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL Auction 2017. Although he played only three matches for SRH in IPL 2017, he was incredibly effective with the ball as he had an economy rate of under 5.5. He was brought back by SRH for IPL 2018 for Rs. 1 crore and played five matches in the season, taking three wickets. The right-hand middle-order batsman is capable of using the long lever and also bowl some clever off-spinner. He got the longest run in a season in 2019 when he featured in 8 games that included a 4-wicket haul. He is one handy cricketer to have and it will be interesting to see how the franchise uses Nabi in their scheme of things. The 2020 season might suit his bowling and batting style as the IPL is happening in the dusty pitches of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.
His international debut came in the ICC World Cup Qualifier against Scotland at Benoni in April 2009 where he scored a fifty and helped his claim a win. Even before his ODI debut, he played a crucial role in ensuring that Afghanistan got there. Although Afghanistan didn't manage to qualify for that edition of the World Cup, he has been a permanent fixture in the Afghanistan cricket side since then. Nabi was in the team when Afghanistan won their first match in 2015 WC against Scotland. Afghanistan also managed to qualify for the 2019 WC and Nabi was still present there, although the team didn't manage to win a single game.
Nabi made his T20I debut on 1 February 2010 against Ireland and since then has been an integral part of the Afghanistan cricket side that qualified for the World T20 for four successive editions from 2010 to 2016. Afghanistan has also qualified for the 2020 T20WC that has been postponed till 2021. In 75 T20Is, Nabi has taken 69 wickets at an average of 26.65 whereas with the willow he has scored 1,316 runs.
Afghanistan played their first ever Test match against India in May 2018 and Nabi has a part of the historical match. However, during the one-off Test match against Bangladesh, he announced his retirement from Test cricket to focus on white-ball cricket.
Mohammad Nabi was born on 1 January 1985 in Logar, Afghanistan. Due to the unrest in the country, Nabi moved on to Pakistan. He started his career there but gradually moved to better opportunities and eventually represented his home country.