Hampshire have signed the tyro Afghanistan spinner, Mujeeb Ur Rahman for this year’s Vitality T20 Blast competition, pinning their faith in a 17-year-old legspinner who has already stood up impressively to the pressures of interntional cricket and IPL.
Mujeeb, who first shot to priminence by becoming the first international cricketer born in the 21st century, and became the youngest IPL debutant at 17 years 11 days when he turned out for Kings XI Punjab, will be avalable for the entire tournament.
Mujeeb’s signing is bound to overshadow the capture of the explosive New Zealand batsman Colin Munro, whose arrival at the Ageas Bowl this summer has also been confirmed. Munro will remain until his Caribbean Premier League commitments in August.
Hampshire are banking on a continuation of Mujeeb’s extraordinary entrance into the professional game. He has burst onto the scene in the last 12 months with his ability to bowl ripping off-breaks, leg-breaks and googlies.
The 17-year-old first impressed as part of an Afghanistan U19 side that claimed a historic victory in the Under-19 Asia Cup in 2017, and his performances as leading wicket-taker there earned him a full international debut at the age of just 16.
Composed beyond is years, he was also a key factor in Afghanistan’s success in the 2019 Cricket World Cup qualifying tournament earlier this year, helping secure their place at next year’s full tournament hosted in England and Wales.
Those achievements and his ability to bowl match-winning spells saw him selected by Kings XI Punjab for more than 600,000 USD in this year’s IPL, taking 14 wickets to date.
He could team up with Hampshire’s legspinner, Mason Crane, who became England’s youngest specialist spinner to make a Test debut for 90 years against Australia in Sydney in January and whose performance brought more praise than his return of 1 for 193 might suggest.
Crane suffered a stress fracture playing for England Lions in the West Indies in February, but he is back in full training and could make a return in the Royal London Cup this weekend.
Described supportively by the Lions coach, Andy Flower as “still a work in progress”, Crane, 21, might benefit from observing the confidence and maturity of Rahman, who is nearky for years younger and who brings a whole new meaning to the term “inexperienced”.
Munro, 31, offers less delicate skills but his record suggests he can also have a sizeable impact. He boasts an average of 33.51 and a strike-rate of 163.59 in 45 T20Is for New Zealand, and is second in the ICC’s World T20I batting rankings.
The 31-year-old is the only player to score three T20I centuries in the history of the game and has been involved in the best T20 competitions across the world, including the Big Bash and Indian Premier League, where he’s currently featuring for Delhi Daredevils.